Cross Sections (Summer 2016)

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A REASON FOR HOPE It was a difficult start to the summer. Just as we were about to end the school year, the horrific shooting in Orlando occurred. It was quickly followed by tragic shootings of black men, one in Baton Rouge, the other in St. Paul. And then we witnessed the horror on live television of five Dallas police officers in the line of duty being gunned down before our eyes. BY BOB RIDDLE HEAD OF SCHOOL

It was hard not to begin the summer filled with sorrow, pain and despair. And as these events unfolded, I found myself struggling to understand what had happened, why it happened and, most importantly, what we could do to end the senseless violence in our country and in our world. What brings me out of the depths of my despair is thinking about the ways in which we teach empathy and compassion at Crossroads, and remembering the ideals of equity and justice that permeate our curriculum. That’s what gives me hope and furthers my resolve that

The community celebrated retiring Elementary School Director Joanie Martin on Joanie Day.

we prepare a new generation of leaders who exemplify these ideals and continue to do the good work out in the world ourselves. In this year alone, we were witness to many powerful and hopeful moments playing out on our campuses and in the greater community. We saw the fourth-grade project to more fully understand Islam—inspired by students’ own questions about the rhetoric they were overhearing from politicians and others. We saw Middle Schoolers come together with students from other schools and different backgrounds, using dance as a means to communicate and to give back to their own communities. And we saw Upper School student activists—including participants in the Student Diversity Leadership Conference and Crossroads’ Drama Tour—work to create a more inclusive and empathetic society. Indeed, it is in those moments, when our students become teachers and we adults become students, when I am most inspired and most hopeful for the future of our world.


Inside This Issue

These achievements would not be possible without the extraordinary work of our faculty, staff and administrators. I feel so fortunate to work in a school with such dedicated individuals, all of whom play a significant role in mentoring our students and shaping tomorrow’s leaders. This year we said goodbye to five of those remarkable individuals. Our four retiring employees each served Crossroads for over 20 years: art teacher Pam Posey; science teacher Frank Baele; security officer Larry Sheffield; and Elementary School director Joanie Martin, who promoted equity and justice throughout the Elementary School curriculum and culture during her 29 years at the helm. And we sadly lost Upper School music teacher Richard Grayson, who passed away in early July. Richard was a powerful supporter of our music students, championing their accomplishments and cheering them on at every performance. He will be deeply missed by all who had the great fortune to know him. These five individuals are part of our School’s rich history of employees who fully embody the Crossroads philosophy and inspire our alumni—so many of whom go on to pursue careers in social justice or


Around the School


Donor Profile


Trustee News


Parent Association


Performing With Purpose


Open Dialogue, Open Minds


Celebrating Joanie Martin


Retiring Employees


Employee Service Anniversaries


Student Poem: “Trio From Kernville, California”


Alumni News


Class Notes


In Memoriam


is published twice a year.


Call: 310-829-7391, ext. 564 Email: We have made every attempt to have all names and information in this publication correct. If any errors or omissions are noted, we offer our sincere apologies and hope you will notify the Communications Office. CONTENT CONTRIBUTORS

Dance and Dialogue brings together students from across the city to explore dance as a means of self-expression and a tool for community service.

Sara Ring Editor, Director of Communications Ashley Ratcliff Communications Manager Kathy O’Brien Campaign Communications & Research Manager Candace Pearson Contributing Writer

advocate for the underserved through their activism and volunteer efforts. So what gives me hope amongst so much recent tragedy? It’s our School’s commitment to asking difficult questions, challenging the status quo and working toward a more equitable future. And it’s the ways in which our students, our employees, our alumni and our parent community are out there creating positive change. That’s what helps me get through these difficult times, and to know that we are, indeed, creating a better future for our world, and for our children.

Tom Nolan Dean of Alumni Kate Thomas Alumni Relations Manager Julie Olds Executive Director, P.S. Science Roxanne Zazzaro Director of the Upper School Designer Warren Group | Studio Deluxe Contributing Photographers Linda Abbott, Shannon Ashworth, Julia Ciaccio, Randal Coombs, Max Gerber ’92, Mark Gold, David Hume Kennerly, Ashley Ratcliff, Sara Ring, Tina Turbeville, Erin Wrightsman, Stephen Zeigler SPECIAL THANKS TO

Patrick Mahany, Corinne Schulman, Courtney O’Rourke, Ana Maria Floyd, Rebecca Smith Hurd, Kelly Kagan Law ’92 and the Alumni Office ON THE COVER

Joanie Martin collage by Mia Liebeskind, second grade. Dogs by Madeleine Kayne, second grade, and first-graders Raegan Mitchell, Noa Spector and Mary Xia.




Fourth-Graders Explore the Truth About Islam “As-Salaam-Alaikum (‘Peace be unto you’),” the imam called out. “Wa-Alaikum-Salaam (‘And unto you peace’),” a sea of cross-legged Crossroads fourth-graders emphatically responded in unison from the colorful carpet of a Los Angeles mosque. The entire fourth grade took a field trip to the Islamic Center of Southern California one Thursday afternoon in February as part of their in-depth study of Islam, following concern and conversation sparked by the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Had the imam (Muslim worship leader) gone on a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia? Is he Sunni or Shiite? Do Muslims ever combine the five daily prayers? Why can’t Muslims eat bacon? How long does it take to read the Quran? Imam Asim Buyuksoy answered these questions and many others posed by the students.

While there, they also learned what the Arabic script adorning the mosque’s walls meant, observed people praying and saw a photo of the Kaaba, a building at the center of Islam’s most sacred mosque in Mecca.

video clips and hearing firsthand accounts from Muslims who were mistreated because of their beliefs, the students were eager to dispel some of the negative stereotypes about Muslims and share what they learned at a Gathering.

During the course of the unit, students sought to gain understanding of Islam and those who practice it.

The students also interviewed their parents and surveyed each grade K-5 to assess their knowledge about Muslims and the Islamic faith. Their findings revealed that, overall, the Crossroads community didn’t know much about Islam, one of the fastest-growing religions in the world.

“You can’t stereotype a whole group of 1.6 billion people after the actions of a tiny group,” says Gabriel Evers. “It doesn’t really make sense that just because some people have made the wrong decision, other people who are a part of that religion are treated badly.” Adds Owen Cazenave, “It makes me feel mad, in a way, that people are judged because of their religion.” After engaging in dialogue in Council, researching Islam, reading books, watching

“People say Muslims are dangerous,” the fourth-graders shared during the Gathering. “In reality, Islam teaches Muslims to help people, not harm them. People are mistaking the actions of a few for an entire religion and that’s not fair.” Students concluded the Gathering by encouraging the Crossroads community to make a difference by being upstanders.


“It doesn’t really make sense that just because some people have made the wrong decision, other people who are a part of that religion are treated badly.” Gabriel Evers, fourth grade After studying patterning, design elements and coloring typical in Islamic art, students worked together to draw shapes in pencil and paint over them with watercolors.



Meet the New Director of the Elementary School

“SOFT SCULPTURES,” first-graders

Q. What was your own K-5 education like?

After an extensive two-year search, Crossroads chose Debbie Wei to take over as director of the Elementary School after Joanie Martin stepped down from the role. (See story on page 22.) A Philadelphia native, Debbie most recently served as the principal of the Elementary School for the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India. She began her career as a teacher and curriculum specialist and went on to become the founding principal and CEO of the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School in Philadelphia. Here, she shares her thoughts on education and the two sentences that convinced her of its power to change the world.

A. It wasn’t something I really liked very much. I was always a “good student,” but I felt pretty invisible, identity-wise. Actually, I grew up pretty ashamed of being Asian-American. There were quite a lot of physical fights, centered around being teased: kids pulling their eyes back and saying “ching-chong” and whatnot. Lots of teasing about what was in my lunch box. I was kind of nerdy; I loved learning and I used to devour books. The other important parts of school for me were friendships and relationships and particular teachers who went out of their way to help me. Q. What is a misconception people have about elementary school-age children? A. Sometimes I think people forget that elementary-age children’s biggest growth and learning happens through play. Children are learning in so many different ways: academically, cognitively, emotionally, socially and physically. We need to remember that when we think about the kind of people we want our kids to be in 20 years, most of us don’t say, “great at taking tests.” We want kids with gratitude, courage and thoughtfulness, with resilience, persistence, creativity, kindness and compassion. We need to take the time to foster those things in the elementary-school years.

Q. You’ve been a lifelong social justice advocate. What do you see as the connection between education and social justice? A. In the forward to Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” educator Richard Shaull wrote, “There is no such thing as a neutral educational process. Education either functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes ‘the practice of freedom,’ the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” Those two sentences have framed my whole understanding of the critical importance of education to change the world. Q. What attracted you to Crossroads? A. When I started to read about Crossroads, it seemed like a school that Paulo Freire would have enjoyed. It is a school engaged in “the practice of freedom.” When I came out for my interview and met the people at Crossroads, I felt my perception was confirmed. I bragged about the school to everyone once I left the interview and just kept my fingers and toes crossed!


“Animated Adjectives” Stirs Up Students’ Creativity With markers, colored pencils, paint, construction paper and cardboard at their fingertips, Middle School students let their creativity run wild for the “Animated Adjectives, Language Into Form” exhibit in February. The Sam Francis Gallery’s back wall was filled with vibrantly colored words of all shapes, sizes and hues, while animated words danced across a projection screen.

“I chose ‘amazing’ because I liked how the letters looked next to each other, and I liked the length of it,” says seventh-grader Izzy Massin.

Some students thought outside the box and made up words of their own. Seventh-grader Nathan Tabib invented “Draketastic” in honor of popular rapper-singer Drake.

Students used iPads loaded with the iStopMotion software to animate their adjectives.

“It’s a lot of fun seeing what you can do with the letters,” says Nathan, who had previously enjoyed animating in his Art and Culture class.

Guided by Los Angeles-based artist Kiel Johnson, students took total artistic control in making 3-D sculptures out of words that described themselves. Students from across different disciplines— such as Latin, Core, Studio Art, Sculpture, and Art and Culture—collaborated on words. Some studying Latin chose to use the classical language for their descriptive word. These included “tenax” (tough), “beatus” (happy), “dingus” (worthy) and “laetus” (delighted).

Middle Schoolers Reflect on Dr. King’s Legacy Crossroads’ Middle School honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a dynamic, interactive assembly on Jan. 15, the birthday of the great civil rights leader. Music played a key part in the celebration. Students created tribute songs to King incorporating his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, using the music program Garage Band. They discussed liberation songs of the civil rights era and sang “Glory” from the 2014 film

“Selma,” which chronicles the events surrounding the historic 1965 civil rights march. “Music really connects people and can show signs of hope and respect, so I think this assembly is really cool,” says eighth-grader Isabella Koz. Crossroads trustees Nat Trives and Elaine Parker-Gills shared how King impacted their lives, providing students with a personal Nat Trives and Elaine Parker-Gills at the Middle School Martin Luther King Jr. Day Assembly.

perspective. Nat, a former Santa Monica mayor and police officer, described how he fought for sanitation workers’ rights in 1968, just as King was doing the same in Tennessee when he was assassinated. He said things at the time were “really, really scary.” Elaine, a professor, lecturer and consultant, was involved with college activist movements of the day and encouraged students to be mindful of what King did to make the world a better place. “Even when Dr. King stood up and was trying to be fair, in April 1968, he was shot down,” she reminded students. “There are parades and different activities, but sometimes we forget about that sacrifice.”



Student Doodles Commemorate Abigail Adams Crossroads’ Gender Equality Club found an opportunity to highlight a group underrepresented on the world’s most popular website, with an Upper-School art contest dubbed the Google Representation Project.

Eloise Fassler, a 12th-grader, was named the winner of the contest. Her Doodle (below) includes the Adams quote “Remember the Ladies” written with a quill on scroll, a nod to Abigail’s 1776 letter to John, in which she urged him to be more generous toward women than his forebears in drafting the new nation’s first laws.

“The basic idea of the Google Representation Project is to help female representation howYou can find Doodle entries from other ever we can,” says Roxanne. “Google Doodles talented Upper Schoolers throughout the inspire people and give them role models. We think Abigail Adams is an inspiring woman for pages of this issue. her achievements in feminism, abolitionism and politics.”

ELOISE FASSLER, 12th grade

Junior Roxanne Barnes, the club’s copresident, called attention to the disparity of women and people of color featured in Google Doodles, the entertaining and often-animated visuals on the search engine’s home page. The images highlight notable individuals and commemorate major dates and events.

The Gender Equality Club partnered with the History Club for the Google Representation Project. Of the 40 names suggested, Abigail Adams—the wife of second U.S. President John Adams and a champion of women’s rights— was chosen as the subject for the project.

Claude Steele Discusses Stereotype Threat On Feb. 2, Claude Steele— renowned social scientist and Crossroads grandparent— addressed faculty, staff and parents on his theory of stereotype threat, which describes how racial, gender and other stereotypes can negatively impact

student performance and lead to academic underachievement. Steele’s 2010 book, “Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do,” was read and discussed by Crossroads staff and faculty

last summer. His talk was part of an ongoing conversation at Crossroads concerning racism and inclusiveness. In November, Dr. Derald Wing Sue spoke on the topic of microaggressions to Middle and Upper School students, employees and parents.


Sophomore Named Secretary of Senate at YMCA Youth & Government Conference Austin Astrup knows a thing or two about taking chances. The 10th-grader took a chance and joined the YMCA Youth & Government’s Culver-Palms delegation September, despite having only a passing interest in politics. He took another when he was elected secretary of senate. And yet another when he delivered a speech on taking chances at the Model Legislature in Government conference to a room of 4,000 peers in a massive auditorium within the state Capitol building last February. Crossroads 10th-graders Dante Vaisbort and Lyla Trilling also attended. During the conference, youth delegates from all over California, each dressed in their “Sacramento attire” (formal wear), wrote and debated bills and learned how the government works. This was particularly exciting

for Austin, who got to work at current Secretary of the Senate Daniel Alvarez’s desk in the Senate chambers. The Crossroads lifer was responsible for organizing and tracking results for all the bills, ranging from granting people 14 and older the right to choose to take prescription drugs, to the creation of a “Star Wars” Death Star. He essentially was charged with being the most knowledgeable person at the conference. “Super stressful, but it was so much fun,” the 16-year-old says. “I loved it. It really made you feel like a role model. It’s beautiful seeing these teenagers discuss topics that adults talk about, and how passionate they are about them and how important it is. Someone whose mom is bipolar stands up there and debates for mental illness. It’s amazing to me.”

Though Austin has no plans of pursuing politics in adulthood—for now, at least—he hopes to run for undersecretary of state next year and secretary of state in his senior year.

It really made you feel like a role model. It’s beautiful seeing these teenagers discuss topics that adults talk about, and how passionate they are about them and how important it is.”


Austin Astrup, 10th grade


Meet the New Director of Enrollment Management In July 2015, Eric Barber took on the newly created position of director of enrollment management, providing leadership in areas including recruitment, admissions and financial aid across all three divisions. Eric was most recently the director of admission and enrollment management at the Evergreen School in Shoreline, Washington. Since his arrival at Crossroads, Eric has helped implement effective change in the Admissions Office, which received a record 925 applications for the 2016-17 school year, for about 150 new K-12 student spots. With Eric’s guidance, the Admissions Office revamped the tours, interviews, reading and

admissions committees to ensure a “very equitable” process for all applicants. For example, Middle School applicants previously toured the campus and went directly into a one-on-one interview with an adult. Now sixth- and seventh-graders meet with current Crossroads students for a Q&A on their experience at the School and then participate in fun, collaborative activities in groups of four to five with a teacher. These updates take the needs and time of the students, parents, divisions and Admissions team into consideration to achieve the best results, says Eric, who

I think an admission process should mirror the care and the authenticity of being a current family, which here is super warm, high touch, engaging and friendly.” Eric Barber

ANNIE MYRON, 11th grade

divides his time between the Norton and 21st Street campuses. “People really got to see who our School is through the changes, and that was the biggest goal,” says Eric, whose two children attend Crossroads. “I think an admission process should mirror the care and the authenticity of being a current family, which here is super warm, high touch, engaging and friendly. We want every person, no matter what decision they get, to walk away feeling like they got a great sense of the School, they were cared for and they thought the process was humane and fair.”


Ray Charles Park Gets a New Look

“DTASC: Crossroads! We Tell: Stories!” by Zoey Zimmerman, Middle and Upper School Drama Teacher

“Great Tyranny, lay down thy basis sure.” This battle cry from “Macbeth” bellowed out from the back of the clamorous bus (before 7 a.m., no less) as Crossroads actors grades six to eight rehearsed en route to the Middle School Drama Teachers Association of Southern California (DTASC) Shakespeare Festival held on April 30 at St. Joseph High School in Lakewood, California. A few weeks earlier, on April 16, our eighth- through 11th-grade actors and designers evoked with equal fervor pieces from plays including “The Tempest,” “Julius Caesar” and “Romeo and Juliet” at Carson High School for the DTASC JV and varsity division festival.

After spring break, students on the 21st Street Campus noticed a subtle enhancement to the Alley—the resurgence of the beloved Ray Charles Park. The park was temporarily dismantled while the W. M. Keck Math/ Science Institute was integrated into the Science Education & Research Facility and its former home converted into the new Upper School Humanities building. Flanked by trees planted years ago by faculty and students, the park now includes drought-tolerant plants, two concrete benches and a rock pathway, and has proven to be a convenient place for students to connect and relax throughout the school day. The story of how the first Ray Charles Park, originally known as the Ray Charles Memorial Lawn, came to be is an inspiring tale of student determination and fundraising. Back in the early 2000s, there wasn’t any grass in the Alley and former Student Council Vice President Zaq Landsberg ’03 sought to change that. He took it upon himself to build a grass box on wheels, complete with a “Keep Off the Grass” sign, and placed it in the Alley, but he wasn’t satisfied. Zaq wanted a full-fledged grass park. With the support of then-Dean of Students Tom Nolan, other faculty and fellow students (who liked the idea so much they gave up three parking spots to create the space), the Ray Charles Memorial Lawn was dedicated on Oct. 1, 2004, shortly after the musician passed away. “I used to keep the [conceptual] drawing to show kids that you can do anything around here if you just put your mind to it and really go for it,” Tom says.

Between the three festival divisions, a total of 40 Crossroads’ students passionately acted the Bard or gave design presentations, alongside well over a thousand theater kids hailing from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. In between performance rounds, a sea of exuberant students offered one another heartfelt congratulations on their scenes, exchanged phone numbers, kicked soccer balls around and broke into spontaneous sing-offs, almost always in perfect harmony. This animated frolicking within a diverse gathering is part of the mission and beauty of DTASC. So, too, are immense gains students make (intellectual, emotional and artistic, to name just a few) through the powerful pedagogy of designing and acting Shakespeare. The festival culminates in an awards ceremony naming winners in a variety of categories. While Crossroads won two first-place trophies and multiple other honors, the dubiousness of ranking art was foremost on our minds, as evidenced by our own “battle cry,” chanted at every rehearsal. It’s not in iambic pentameter, but we suspect old Billy Shakes would heartily approve: “DTASC: Crossroads! We Tell: Stories!” Middle Schoolers at the DTASC Shakespeare Festival.



P.S. Science Hosts Day of Discovery On April 16, Crossroads’ P.S. Science program shared some of its treasures with the School community at its Science Discovery Day, held in the Science Education & Research Facility on the 21st Street Campus. In a classroom packed with Crossroads families, P.S. Science instructor Sherry LeMire led a mini-lesson using live silkworm caterpillars, assisted by partner classroom teacher Janice Blank and fifth-graders Erandi Mendez and Marilyn Sanchez from William Green Elementary School in Lawndale, California. The lesson taught participants about metamorphosis and the production of silk. Meanwhile, an adjacent classroom was abuzz with parents and children problem-solving and prototyping as they built functioning solar cars, made mini kelp forest dioramas, dug for fossils and investigated with magnets. They were assisted by P.S. Science instructors Gigi Castello and Aimee Oyenoki and Crossroads student volunteers: 12th-grader Bailey Harris, 11th-grader Luke Young and ninth-grader Riley Olds.

Top: P.S. Science students Marilyn Sanchez, left, and Erandi Mendez helped lead a lesson on silk worms. Far left: A young learner and her mother study the patterns of a leaf. Left: 11th-grader Luke Young demonstrates the power of magnets.

P.S. Science is an initiative of the Crossroads Community Outreach Foundation that provides weekly hands-on science education to elementary-school students in socioeconomically disadvantaged schools. It also gives their teachers the tools, project materials, mentorship and support they need to deliver engaging scientific discovery and problem-solving lessons.

KEVIN BINA, seventh grade

Learn more at


Crossroads Students Move Up, Graduate The 2015-16 school year ended with much pomp and circumstance, as the Class of 2016 graduated and fifth- and eighthgraders moved up to new divisions. On June 2, 130 seniors graduated during a heartfelt commencement ceremony. In their speeches, students expressed gratitude for their unique experiences at Crossroads and shared their love for the School and their peers. “We’ve learned how to reach out for help,” said graduate Lauren Roper. “Something so special to this class is the community we’ve created and the support we fostered.” Upper School English teacher and adviser David Olds encouraged the seniors to step out of their comfort zones and embrace failure in his address. During the Elementary School Moving Up ceremony on June 13, 52 fifth-graders shared their favorite Crossroads memories, which included retiring Elementary School Director Joanie Martin, field trips, school projects, helpful teachers and their buddies, among others. “I ended up making new friendships that continue to this day,” a fifth-grader reflected during the ceremony. The following day, 119 eighthgraders relished their final moments as Middle Schoolers and celebrated their entry into Upper School.

“Our grade has been through so much together,” eighth-grader Kai McAliley said in his Moving Up speech. “We have definitely seen a lot of chaos, but we have also picked up fragments along the way that we will use to build our ideal world, together.” Seventh Grade Core Coordinator Todd Baron encouraged the soon-to-be-ninth-graders to

seize the moment during his remarks. Students provided music at all three events, with fifthgraders singing time-honored songs like Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up,” the Jazz Collective bookending the Middle-School ceremony and Upper Schoolers performing sentimental selections.

Clockwise from top: Seniors toss their caps at Commencement; eighth-grader Celeste Mancia addresses the Middle School Moving Up; fifth-graders celebrate the Elementary School Moving Up.




Beloved Security Officer Retires After 31 Years Newly retired Security Officer Larry Sheffield loved his job and the people that made up the School. Students, parents, teachers, staff and administrators: They are all his “babies.”

always carry you guys in my heart,” Larry addressed his well-wishers, fighting back tears. “No matter how far I go or how long I stay, I love each and every one of you.”

During his June 3 farewell party in the Alley, attendees wore buttons that read “No … I Am Larry’s Baby!” to celebrate the man who treated them with such care and kindness throughout his three decades at Crossroads.

Friends and colleagues lined up to take photos with the guest of honor and give him one last hug before he left for retirement in his home state of Alabama, where his daughter and grandchildren reside.

“I just want to say to my Crossroads family, I love you guys very, very much and I’ll

Larry also had the chance to enjoy one of his favorite pastimes—singing with friends—

during the party, sharing the stage with Dean of Alumni Tom Nolan, Performing Arts Coordinator Tony Hundtoft, Director of Enrollment Management Eric Barber, Jesse Nolan ’01, Zack Sekoff ’14 and Taylor Mackall ’15. Head of School Bob Riddle presented Larry with a book of notes and remembrances signed by hundreds of community members. “You’ve been the heart and soul of the School,” Crossroads co-founder Paul Cummins said to Larry. “I can’t imagine this place without you. Everybody knows and loves Larry.” Former Headmaster Roger Weaver added, “You have a truly great heart, a generous soul and a remarkably brave spirit. You have been a teacher to us all and a priceless gift to this community.”

Top: From left, Bob, Larry and former headmasters Roger Weaver and Paul Cummins. Right: Larry with his Security team colleagues.



Bright Futures Await Senior Student-Athletes by Tara Shima, Athletics Communications Coordinator

Varsity soccer goalie Jackson Schierbeek has signed with the St. Lawrence Saints for the 2016-17 school year. Jackson plans to study biology and kinesiology with intentions of becoming an athletic trainer or physical therapist.

Distance runner Andrew Wedeking started running as a Crossroads sixth-grader after his parents nudged him to join the Middle School cross-country team. He will bring his track and cross country talents to Kenyon College, where he hopes to continue his athletics success.

Midfielder Aminata Kolokoh will be playing for Stanford University in the fall. Since her freshman year with the Roadrunners, Ami has been a hugely impactful player who will undoubtedly continue to be a competitive force during her collegiate endeavors.

The Crossroads basketball program will be sending a number of talented players to the rosters of NCAA programs across the country. Small forward Henry Ward will be shooting for Grinnell College in Iowa, where he is looking forward to learning a whole new style of play. Shooting guard Nicky Shapiro will be heading off to Massachusetts to continue his academic pursuits along with his passion for basketball at Tufts College. Finally, power forward Ethan Zakarin will join classmate Andrew Wedeking in Ohio, where he hopes to make an impact on the North Coast Athletic Conference while pursuing his passion for writing in Kenyon College’s creative writing, journalism and English courses.

Forward Ella Larsen will be heading off to Middletown, Connecticut, in the fall to join the Wesleyan University soccer team. Her final game at Crossroads was a confidence booster: Ella scored a hat trick, including a goal that came on an assist from her sister, sophomore Clare Larsen.

Two Crossroads varsity teams—girls tennis and boys swim and dive— were named 2015–16 state academic team champions by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), which honors athletic teams with the highest grade-point average in the state.




Board Honors Joanie Martin

Budge and Brenda Offer With a last name like Offer, it’s fitting that Budge and Brenda have been generous contributors to Crossroads School. Their history of supporting Crossroads began in the 1970s, when they enrolled their sons Robert ’82 and David ’84 in the School during the boys’ junior high school years. The Offers were drawn to the progressive, revolutionary vision created and executed by Paul Cummins and other Crossroads founders. “The kids loved [Crossroads] from the get-go,” Budge says. “And we loved all the parents and teachers,” says Brenda. “We love everything about Crossroads. I wish I could have gone to Crossroads.”

The couple have been thoughtful donors for many years and are recognized as members of Crossroads’ Robert Frost Legacy Society, as they have let the School know that it is named in their will. The Offers carry with them decades of rich, positive experiences, seeing firsthand the engaging curriculum that molded their children into effective communicators at an early age and the connections they’ve made that have lasted well into adulthood. “[Our sons] got a terrific exposure beyond reading, writing and arithmetic,” Budge says. “They’ve had incredible successes and we feel we owe so much of it to Crossroads. We feel so fortunate and we want to pay back for what we got.”

Board Chair Bob Friedman presents Joanie with a resolution signed by the Board of Trustees.

LEILA BARNES, ninth grade

At the June 7 meeting of the Board of Trustees, held in the Community Room, the Board honored outgoing Elementary School director Joanie Martin for her 29 extraordinary years of service and leadership at Crossroads. Board Chair Bob Friedman presented Joanie with a Board Resolution recognizing her immense contributions to the School. Trustee Ann Colburn brought a homemade chocolate cake and recited a poem she wrote in Joanie’s honor. Board members gave Joanie a standing ovation and expressed their gratitude for all that Joanie has done to create a vibrant and inspiring learning environment for Crossroads students.

Robert, an entertainment lawyer, and David, an award-winning real estate agent and longtime member of Crossroads’ Board of Trustees, both graduated from Tufts University. Three of the Offer grandchildren graduated from Crossroads, and three currently attend the School. “It’s very important to me that I see the School flourish, and I know our boys and their wives feel the same way,” Budge says.



A Night to Remember by Rachel Iverson and Michelle Rosenbach, Cabaret 2016 Event Co-chairs

Cabaret 2016 was an unqualified triumph! So many people, both onstage and behind the scenes, helped to make the sensational performance happen. Every single one of the over 600 people involved in the production of Cabaret 2016 gets a rave review. Having an exciting new venue—the historic Wiltern—made the evening extra special. We are so grateful for the generosity of the Rapino family and Live Nation in welcoming us to the beautiful Los Angeles venue. With unmatched energy, the directing team of David Listenberger and Lily Rains ’97 and their cast of over 300 performers—ranging in age from 6 to older than 66—spent hours rehearsing this year’s tale of

time-traveling students penned by head writers and parent volunteers Jon Aibel and Karey Kirkpatrick and their team. The innovative musical numbers included a groovy ’70s-inspired parent number, some “revolting” Middle Schoolers and the employees’ exuberant take on “Shake It Off.” Every part of the show was a joyful, surprising and fun-loving tribute to the Cross-

roads community. One of the many highlights was the poignant rendition of “For Good” (from the musical “Wicked”) sung by students in honor of beloved Elementary School Director Joanie Martin, who is stepping down after 29 years. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Not only did the Crossroads community put on this dynamic

Broadway-quality show, but we also raised over $500,000 through ticket sales, auction and raffle purchases, and sponsorship gifts, the proceeds of which will support Crossroads’ Financial Aid Fund. Thanks to every single member of the Crossroads community for helping to make Cabaret 2016 such a wonderful success.

Clockwise from top: The Parent Ensemble gets groovy with help from Ron Clark (foreground), Crossroads grandparent, alumni parent and Cabaret writer; parent bassist Wyzard Seay brings the funk; some of our extraordinary Cabaret volunteers, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes; parent musicians Stewart Copeland and Susanna Hoffs perform “Hazy Shade of Winter.”








Challenging Stereotypes As so often happens at Crossroads, the idea for April’s third-grade Gathering—filled with songs and poetry—came from the students. Ronnie Anderson and Audrey Matalone’s 3W class had been exploring topics related to identity,

and wanted to share what they’d learned. Identity is a theme that runs throughout the Elementary School curriculum; students study and talk candidly about issues including race, religion and culture, promoting understanding and respect across the diverse student body. It also sets the groundwork for important discus-

sions about prejudice, stereotypes and name-calling. To prepare for the Gathering, students developed identity wheels containing elements of their personal identities—such as family structure, likes and dislikes—and social identities, such


as ethnicity and gender. They drew images representing these elements within silhouettes of their heads in profile and wrote acrostic poems about themselves, using the letters in their names as the first letter of each line. At the April 22 Gathering, the students took to a stage decorated with words including “mother,” “boy,” “African-American” and “transgender.” Initially hidden behind masks, the students eventually revealed themselves both literally and figuratively. The presentation began with a recitation of the Julio Noboa Polanco poem “Identity,” a celebration of individuality over convention. Each child then presented their own poem, sharing elements of both their personal and social identities. (“I feel gorgeous on the inside,” read one. “I am a Jew who loves rock music,” read another.) The poems all ended with “the one thing you don’t know about me.” These revelations—some playful, some serious—often flew in the face of commonly held stereotypes. Girls shared their love for technology and skateboarding, and boys talked about playing with dolls and having a daily cry. When a female student confessed her competitive nature,

more than one girl in the audience responded with the “aho” hand gesture, signaling solidarity. The presentation ended with the students singing Christina Aguilera’s paean to self-acceptance, “Beautiful,” accompanied by music teacher Tammy Moran on piano. After the Gathering, the students were inspired to create an Identity Word Wall, now an installation in the third-grade rotunda. The entire Elementary School has contributed to the wall, which includes words that students use to self-identify, such as “Asian” and “creative,” as well as those they want to advocate for, such as “genderqueer.” Says Ronnie of his class, “We are so proud of their braveness, their ability to self-reflect and question thoughtfully and their openness when it came time to present their work and themselves to the community at large.”

MS Communicating With Movement

Sometimes, the very act of performing serves to break down barriers created by cultural, socio-economic and geographical differences. For the past three years, Middle School dance instructor Ricka Glucksman has organized and fundraised for her program Dance and Dialogue, which brings together middle schoolers from all over the city to engage in a free day of dance classes and life skills workshops. This year, a program for high schoolers was offered, as well. Participating schools make a commitment to “pay it forward,” such as by dancing at local fundraising events and creating pieces that draw attention to social ills. Ricka visits each school during the year to help them reach their goals. On Jan. 16, 120 middle schoolers representing six different public, charter and independent schools, including Crossroads, participated. They packed



Crossroads’ two dance studios and Tenzing to express themselves through word and movement. To begin, the young dancers—predominantly girls, with an enthusiastic smattering of boys—broke up into groups to engage in the practice of Council. Sitting in a circle, guided by

We connected with other dancers who we wouldn’t otherwise know. It feels so safe. You’re free to be yourself.” Elizabeth Mandell, seventh grade

an experienced Crossroads instructor, the middle schoolers were asked to share their feelings on topics ranging from their “happy place” to why they dance. Although some students were initially hesitant to reveal their inner life to strangers, they soon opened up, often discovering areas of common ground and understanding. “We connected with other dancers who we wouldn’t otherwise know,” shared seventh-grade Crossroads student Elizabeth Mandell. “It feels so safe. You’re free to be yourself.”

After Council it was time to dance. The students rotated through rigorous classes in hip-hop, contemporary and hula. There, the bonding continued; the students helped each other master tricky moves and high-fived after collectively executing a routine. The day concluded with several student performances, including a dance about bullying by Crossroads eighth-grader Lilac Emery-Haynes. The program was an empowering one. Students discussed ways to serve their

communities through dance. They forged connections with a diverse range of peers outside of their own social circle. And for some, the Council experience provided an unexpected boost of affirmation. “We got to speak from the heart,” reflected one student from Bell, California. “We don’t do that at our public school. We have homeroom and move on to our classes. It was amazing to share. I’ve never done anything like that before.”



Connecting Through Theater

Theater has a uniquely unifying quality. Upper School Drama Chair Davida Wills Hurwin has known this for years, and it’s the reason she created Drama Tour, a musical theater Crossroads students which sends dozens of students to the San Francisco Bay Area to build bridges between people who might not otherwise meet. Developed in 1992 in the wake of the riots and racial tensions that erupted in Los Angeles following the Rodney King verdict, Drama Tour has since taken place 10 times in the summer and 15 times in the fall comprising ninth- and 10th-graders, and a few upperclassmen. Last November, students in the Upper School Drama Conservatory took the classic musical “A Chorus Line” on the road for five days, performing 12 shows

at 11 venues, including centers for people with developmental disabilities, juvenile detention facilities, retirement communities, rehabilitation centers, shelters, and schools for youth experiencing educational and behavioral challenges. Before students embark on Tour, Davida reminds them, “This is not about you. It’s about the work that we’re doing.” “That helps them put their ego aside and helps them get to the love of it, the art of it, the communication of theater,” she explains. Students enter uncharted territory, leaving them no frame of reference to rely on except for their preconceived notions. The performers quickly discover that they have more in common with their audiences than they think. “I didn’t know if they were going to laugh at us, or make us feel uncomfort-

able or scared. Those were the most stereotypical thoughts I had on the whole trip,” ninth-grader Eli Glasberg admits of the audience at Centerpoint Men’s Center. “I was profiling these men based on what I thought about them. … I realized that they are just like me. I decided to go into every place with a fresh, new mindset.” The beauty of Tour is that the giving and receiving go both ways. Whether it’s a Q&A at a detention facility or a dance party with children with autism, Crossroads students get to know the people for whom they’re performing offstage. “This is what we do Tour for: to connect with people of all different backgrounds and circumstances,” explains ninth-grader Kalia Thompson. “They aren’t troubled or people to pity. In fact, they give us something. They give us joy, happiness, perspective, memories.”



OPEN MINDS Two sophomores reflect on their experience at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference.

Crossroads Upper Schoolers for the past 20 years, was held in tandem with the People of Color Conference attended by Head of School Bob Riddle and Assistant Head of School and Dean of Faculty Jeff Guckert, as well as faculty and staff members Paul Case, John Climaco, Janeen Jackson, Rosanna Llorens, Silvia Salazar, Veronica Ulloa and Hyacinth Young. Both conferences

Imagine being in a sea of strang-

are hosted annually by the National

ers yet feeling as if you are among

Association of Independent Schools.

lifelong friends. That was what the Student Diversity Leadership Confer-

This year’s theme was “Learning to

ence (SDLC), held Dec. 3-5 in Tampa,

Listen and Listening to Learn: The

Florida, was like for 10th-graders Nelli

Art of Dialogue and the Science of

Briceno and Shannon Munn.

Living Justly.” Nelli, who identifies as Latina/Mexican, and Shannon,

The pair joined Crossroads 12th-

who identifies as African-American,

grader Dexter Summers, 11th-grader

sat down to relive their experience

Melat Lulseged and 10th-graders

at the impactful conference, during

Robin Kim and Valentina Zivojinovic

which they confronted issues of race,

at the conference, which focuses on

gender, socio-economic status, dis-

issues of equity and justice, self-

ability and more. What follows is

reflection, making allies and building

an excerpt of their conversation.

community. SDLC, attended by

Shannon and Nelli (left and right foreground, respectively) with other conference attendees from Crossroads.

NELLI We did a lot of writing personal thoughts and sharing. We also [discussed] how our schools focused on these topics and we just learned about each other since we were from one side of the coast to the other. It was really interesting to see what some people in New York or Maryland did. It was really cool. SHANNON We had affinity groups inside and outside of the family groups [comprising 50 to 60 students]. We did an activity called “fishbowl.” You could say anything you wanted to for five minutes. It was nice to hear other people’s stories. When I was in the family affinity group, you’d hear people saying the same stories that happened to you. It applied to everyone else, too, like discrimination. I found that I had the same kinds of experiences, no matter what race, what gender—it was kind of the same story. There was a lot of listening. They taught us to observe instead of talking. You can learn more from listening than talking.


NELLI For the Latinos in the “fishbowl,” we all kind of joked around about things like when we go to restaurants. Especially Latinos who are fair [skinned] and don’t appear to be the stereotype of a Latino, it’s funny how most of them related how people who speak Spanish start making fun of them, or say a joke in Spanish and they get it. It was funny to listen to that. I made a lot of great friends there. Their stories are very similar to mine, from the situation with our parents and being in an independent school. We struggle sometimes. SHANNON We were talking about stereotypes of African-American people—what we eat, how we talk. My affinity group was huge. It was two conference rooms filled with African-Americans and it was insane. In the little “fishbowls,” there was a lot of chanting, a lot of positivity. They were like, “I’m black, I’m proud. My legacy is now.” They were saying that down the hallway walking all through the place. It was really fun to be with them. That was the most black or African-American people I had [been with] in a room together in my life. It was like, “Oh, my God!” because at school it’s not like that. NELLI Yeah, it’s really a nice feeling to just be in a group of people that you feel so related to. You guys talk and you have the same perspective on things. In my family group, it was really scary how we all fell into comfort, as if we were friends since middle school. People shared really intimate stuff that you probably wouldn’t say to a stranger.

SHANNON It was the fact that you were in a group of people you’ll probably never see again, so I guess it makes it more comfortable in that sense. At school there’s no time to say that kind of stuff. There’s a time and a place. Just being there listening helped. NELLI In a few days, being with my family group, I was just looking forward to going and seeing my new friends and getting into conversations. At Crossroads, we actually have a lot of good things going on. We have affinity groups, and some people in my family and home groups had none at their school, or they weren’t allowed to have any. A few had a BSU [Black Student Union] or a Latino group [similar to Crossroads’ Alma Latina], but apparently none of them have PRIDE [for LGBTQ students and allies], which was surprising. When I told them about it, they were amazed. It’s something we take for granted, but a lot of schools don’t have the benefit of having that group that they can go to for support. SHANNON On the last day [of SDLC], all the students presented to Bob Riddle, the administrators and teachers what we all wanted to change when we got back to Crossroads. It’s kind of hard to change people’s thinking based on what we learned. I wish we could send everyone to SDLC. We set a goal of being open-minded and creating a safe environment. You feel safer and more open in places that you trust. You feel confident and you should always feel confident everywhere you go. It’s kind of hard to bring that stuff [to school]. We definitely shared it with the PEACE Club [People for Ethnic and Cultural Equality].

NELLI We wanted a few more assemblies to focus on some of the issues that we have here. Being there, we were so pumped up. We were with all these people who were so open-minded. It was a really nice conference. And then coming here, you have to come back to reality. While there, the openness was really surprising and really comforting, and just having a lot of support there. I was just so happy to have that. On the flight back, I was mentally preparing myself. It was kind of hard coming to school and seeing how some people talk, how some people express themselves and still hearing about the microaggressions that are happening every day here, it was just hard. How can we continue [what we learned at SDLC] while having students be open-minded? If our students are not open-minded, we’re getting nowhere. That first step is just so hard. SHANNON Even if you feel alone at school, when you go to SDLC, you don’t feel alone anymore. People are feeling the same exact way that you are, and you may not know that. You learn about so many things.



MARY XIA, first grade

& & &


“Welcome.” Every morning, more than 300 Crossroads Elementary School students shuffle, skip, hop and zoom through its front doors. And for the past 29 years, these exuberant young learners have been ushered in by the same pixiesh, magnetic figure standing at the door, greeting each and every child by name and frequently with a warm hug. Through this simple morning ritual, Elementary School Director Joanie Martin sets the tone for the day, and indeed, for the School: You are known. You are heard. You are valued. Fifth-grader Farol Seretean says the experience always leaves her feeling “welcomed and loved.” After nearly three decades of nurturing and leadership, Joanie stepped down as the Elementary School director in June. In these pages, we look back at her remarkable legacy.


In 1987, Joanie was the 42-year-old lower school director at Far Hills Country Day School in New Jersey, a traditional institution where athletics and academics were prized above all else. She knew Crossroads’ then-assistant headmaster Roger Weaver professionally, and was intrigued by the School’s student -centered approach, which more closely matched her own ideas about early childhood education. After then-Crossroads’ Elementary School director, Mimi Baer, announced she was stepping down, Roger met with Joanie at an education conference and interviewed her for the position. Soon Joanie was on a plane to Los Angeles to interview with Crossroads co-founder and then-headmaster Paul Cummins.

When Joanie arrived at Crossroads, the Elementary School campus was located on Fourth Street at St. Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, a cluster of tiny offices and makeshift classrooms with a sycamore tree on the central lawn. The bare-bones administrative team often worked until late into the night to keep the School humming. “We did a little bit of everything,” recalls former Assistant Director Holly Knight, now the parent of a Crossroads Middle Schooler. “We did the schedules, we handled admissions interviews, wrote the checks, served hot lunch. Each day, our beloved facilities supervisor, Pedro Ruelas, would emerge from his office—a tiny hole in the wall under the stairs— and we would discuss the needs of

She’s a wonderful combination of right and left brain. It’s hard to find that in administrators.” Paul Cummins

Joanie in 1992 at St. Augustine by-theSea Episcopal Church, the first home of Crossroads’ Elementary School.

the day. We had fun because we were doing what we loved most: spending the day with the students.” In 1997, when the campus moved to 18th Street and expanded its student body, Joanie was determined to maintain the same warmth and intimacy of their previous quarters. She worked with the architectural firm Pica and Sullivan to ensure that there would be ample communal spaces (reflected in the rotundas), a sycamore tree and outdoor tables instead of a cafeteria. Words reflecting the Crossroads School philosophy were inscribed in a river of stones snaking toward the entrance; Joanie herself chose each stone’s placement. For the spot nearest the front door, she picked the words that mean the most to her: joy and community.

Doggone It: To honor Joanie’s love of pups, Crossroads dads cooked up dog- and pawshaped pancakes at the Joanie Day breakfast on May 20.

Joanie and Crossroads were a perfect fit—save for one thing. A lifelong East Coaster, Joanie had shown up for her interview in a formal blazer, skirt and silk bowtie. She realized that she’d need to rethink her California wardrobe when a first-grader approached her and asked, “Are you an airline stewardess?”

XYLIA HOLZ, kindergarten

“When you met Joanie, right away you knew you were talking to somebody who had real class,” recalls Paul. “She’s a wonderful combination of right and left brain. It’s hard to find that in administrators.”



Not only are joy and community infused throughout the Elementary School, they are exemplified by Joanie herself. Whether leading songs at Gatherings (a holdover from what was called Chapel at St. Augustine), barreling down the slide on Splish Splash Day or dancing her heart out in Cabaret, Joanie’s sense of play is never far from view.

She would rather be with children than with any other creature on the planet.” Roger Weaver

“She’s an incredible visionary,” says Head of School Bob Riddle. “She has a very clear idea about what’s right for children and what that looks like in the classroom and on the playground and in the hallways and in the programs. And she has built what is probably the strongest faculty and staff we have ever had in the Elementary School.”

Paging Doctor Martin Joanie majored in biology at Smith College with a plan to attend medical school. After accepting a teaching job at Moses Brown School in Rhode Island, Joanie found her calling in education and never looked back.

Joanie’s revered status in the Elementary School—and, indeed, at Crossroads—can be attributed to many things, from her deep commitment to constructivist, progressive education to her collaboration-based leadership style. The most essential ingredient may be the simplest, articulated by Roger Weaver: “She would rather be with children than with any other creature on the planet.” This devotion is reflected both in Joanie’s personal relationships with students and alumni, and in her choices regarding curriculum, student discipline and hiring practices, to name just a few. Notes K-12 drama teacher Scott Weintraub, “Every single decision

she’s made over the last 29 years has been filtered through what is best for the children.” For students, Joanie is a living emblem of the Elementary School’s principles of kindness and fairness.

Lifer Alec Schulman, who will enter his senior year in the fall, recalls how students would invoke Joanie’s name when their peers fell short of these ideals. “On the playground, if you wanted to really dis someone or make them feel humbled, you’d say, ‘Yeah? Well, would you say that when Joanie was around?’ For me, she is the beating heart of the Elementary School.”


NOA SPECTOR, first grade

Paul Cummins’ daughter Emily Cummins Polk was in her last year of Elementary School when Joanie came on board, and is now a parent to Crossroads first-grader Della. She recounts a day this spring when Della and her classmates arrived early for their Friday Gathering performance, struggling to contain their excitement. Joanie met them at the door and led them in an impromptu song. “This simple gesture provided just the right tool for regulation that these kids needed,” Emily shares. “She looked each child in the eye while singing, which was just the right way of saying, ‘I see you, I feel your feelings and you matter.’ What more could you ask for in the leader of your child’s school?”

As Elementary School parent Deborah Dragon puts it, “Joanie demonstrates that you can be serious and wise and kind and silly.” Joanie employs this invaluable mix of gravitas and lightness when tackling issues related to social justice, a topic that is dear to her heart. In 1990, when AIDS was still something of a taboo subject, Crossroads admitted an Elementary School student living with the disease. Joanie deftly handled the fears of some parents, while making it clear that the School would stand by the child and his family. No families left. In the late ’90s, Joanie implemented a new K-5 curriculum focused on different kinds of families, including those with gay or lesbian parents. Some parents did remove their children from the School as a result, but the curriculum remains intact to this day. Another priority has been for students as young as kindergarten to explore issues pertaining to race, gender and religion, fostering understanding and respect among

The Crossroads community came out to celebrate Joanie’s amazing legacy in full force. May 20 was Joanie Day at the Elementary School, which kicked off with a pancake breakfast prepared and served by Crossroads’ dads and a moving final Gathering to honor Joanie. The rest of the day was dedicated to fun-filled activities including games, swimming and a fifth grade versus ”staculty” kickball match. An adults-only party for Joanie was held in the Gristanti Gym on June 11, featuring the Parent Band and Tom Nolan Band, tasty treats and nonstop dancing.

the School’s diverse student community. Joanie was also the driving force behind the schoolwide, decades-long partnership with the nonprofit One Voice to support local underserved families. Joanie encourages the same kind of innovative thinking by her faculty, giving them the resources and freedom to try new things. Says Elementary School Assistant Director Cat Ramos, “Joanie as a leader really inspires risk-taking. She wants us to grow professionally and as people, because they are inextricably linked.”

Cathe Jacobs was the first-grade teacher when Joanie was hired—at the time, there was only one class per grade—and recalls Joanie pushing her to attend a writer’s workshop. Cathe continually rebuffed the request, until Joanie found one held in the New England resort town of Martha’s Vineyard. “It turned out to be the most amazing experience,” says Cathe, who went on to serve as Joanie’s assistant director. “It changed my life as a teacher; it changed the whole curriculum. Joanie was unrelenting in getting me to open my eyes to another way of teaching, and she was absolutely right. And boy, did she give me a big carrot to get there.”



1,024 The approximate number of Joanie’s favorite cookies— oatmeal chocolate chip—that parents baked for the June 11 party.

But don’t expect Joanie to take credit for her many successes. Modest to a fault, she directs all praise to her teachers. “Each week during faculty meetings, she asks a team of teachers to lead the meeting and share projects and curriculum happening in their classrooms,” says thirdgrade teacher Ronnie Anderson. “She is the first to shout ‘kudos!’ after a teacher finishes sharing. She is our biggest cheerleader and is always putting us on a pedestal instead of herself.”

Joanie extends this same warmth to everyone in the Crossroads community. Custodian Lilian Mejia has worked at the Elementary School for more than three decades. “I wish there were words far greater than ‘thank you’ for me to say to Joanie,” she shares. “She has made my years here at Crossroads so memorable. Even though she is leaving, I know that it is not ‘goodbye,’ but ‘see you soon.’”

This summer, Joanie handed the reins of the Elementary School over to incoming director Debbie Wei, a lifelong educator and social justice advocate. (See story on page 4). Yet Joanie’s impact will continue to be felt for years to come. “I know I’m still going to be hearing her voice in my head—we all will. And I think that’s a great thing,” says Bob. “Joanie has always been clear that our priorities need to be student-focused, that we always come back to the original mission and philosophy of the School. And I’m grateful that she’s agreed to con-

tinue to provide counsel and support to me and the rest of our administrative team in the coming year.” He continues, “We have, I believe, one of the best elementary schools in the country, and that’s due in large part to Joanie. She knows what she wants, she knows what’s right for the School, and she’s not afraid to make the difficult decisions to make it happen. She has worked very, very hard to achieve that vision, and she’s succeeded. We are a better school because of all that Joanie Martin has brought to the table during her remarkable 29-year legacy!”

She knows what she wants, she knows what’s right for the School, and she’s not afraid to make the difficult decisions to make it happen.” Every morning for 29 years, Joanie greeted students at the Elementary School entrance. Every Friday, Joanie also welcomed students to Gathering in the Community Room. The space is now known as The Joanie Martin Community Room, thanks to Bob and Diana Friedman, who had naming rights for the room and chose the new moniker to honor the retiring director.

Bob Riddle

CASPER BURNS, first grade


10 Important Lessons Learned from Joanie Martin (First published in the 2015-16 Elementary School Yearbook)


Look for the gold in everyone.


Be inclusive. You can’t say, “You can’t play.”


Take care of each other like family.


Spend time in nature.


Show appreciation.


Listen to feedback.


Lean in. Open your heart to a different point of view.


Play and have fun learning.


Enjoy a good laugh each day.


Be kind.

At Joanie’s request, Crossroads has established the Joanie Martin Financial Aid Endowment Fund to allow more children to experience a Crossroads education. Donations can be made at



At the end of the 2015-16 school

Larry Sheffield

year, three longtime employees retired from Crossroads. Larry Sheffield, Frank Baele and Pam Posey were all dynamic and well-respected members of the School community. They each dedicated decades of their lives to Crossroads, and we are a better school for it. We wish them luck as they begin the next chapters of their lives.

CONNOR GEWIRTZ, 11th grade

They will be greatly missed.

Crossroads School without Larry Sheffield is a difficult concept to grasp. Larry gives new meaning to the word “beloved” and is as integral to this School as the Alley itself. His kindness, ready smile, gentle manner, integrity, dedication to his work and affection for his colleagues are unmatched. That affection is openly returned by both his co-workers and his many “babies”—the generations of students and alumni who have benefited from his protection and his friendship. Larry originally hails from Alabama, and before Crossroads was a truck driver who got to know his way around automotive motors. Since 1985, Larry has been a steadfast member of the Facilities Department, first as a crossing guard and now as a security guard, and is credited with introducing the idea of bicycle patrols—at first using his own bike—which

are now a familiar sight on both campuses. He knows every inch of those campuses and keeps a watchful (though deceptively casual-looking) eye on his domain. Still full of surprises, at his 30th anniversary celebration at Crossroads last year he brought the house down singing “Stand by Me” accompanied by Dean of Alumni Tom Nolan on guitar. Larry, you are truly one of a kind. By the time this magazine is published, you will already have driven your truck cross-country to your new apartment in Birmingham, where your daughter and two beautiful grandkids have been looking forward to your homecoming. We miss you already, but you will forever be part of the fabric of life at Crossroads.


Pam Posey

Frank Baele

It should come as no surprise that the path Frank Baele followed to Crossroads 25 years ago included working as a park ranger; hence, the many bear stories he happily shares with students. He has long embodied the quintessential science teacher, teaching subjects including freshman biology, earth and space science, astronomy, geology, ecology, and field and marine biology. Frank is a model of intellectual rigor, discipline and the joy of research and discovery. He has been a member of Upper School Council, served as a student club sponsor and as Upper School science department chair, coached JV and varsity baseball and was a valuable resource during the design of the new Science Education & Research Facility. Beyond the classroom, Frank is entirely at home leading field studies in collaboration with the Environmental

Outdoor Education program, and is happiest combining scientific research, teaching and the outdoor classroom. Frank was the recipient of two Earthwatch Expedition grants, one to Brazil to research jaguars in the Pantanal region, and the other to Robben Island off South Africa to help researchers in population studies of the African penguin. And for 35 consecutive years, Frank has been monitoring the reproductive success of a golden eagle nest site in Yosemite National Park. Frank, your colleagues and students thank you for your many contributions to the School, and have no doubt that you and your wife, Kathy, will enjoy as active, exciting and challenging a life in retirement as you have throughout your stellar career. Please come back often and share your adventures with us.

For more than 27 years at Crossroads, the word “art” has been synonymous with Pam Posey. She is a dedicated artist and teacher, nurturing artistic expression in each of her students and recognizing and guiding the development of the most serious and talented among them. She has taught both Middle and Upper School classes in myriad disciplines, including painting, drawing, printmaking and curatorial skills, and developed the Middle School arts program into its present format. Pam’s energy, humor, signature hairstyle and colorful glasses are unmistakable, as is her unwavering commitment to her students and her art. Pam was a California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) arts conference coordinator, spearheaded Crossroads’ successful bid for the prestigious Music Center Bravo Award in 2010 and has served as Upper School

visual arts department chair, gallery director and interim Middle School assistant director. Pam helmed the 2005 Western Association of Schools and Colleges/CAIS accreditation process, a complex yearlong self-study that involved literally every aspect of the School across campuses, divisions and administrative departments. Throughout her years at Crossroads, Pam has maintained her art practice: Her work has been shown in solo exhibitions at Craig Krull Gallery in Bergamot Station and in group exhibitions throughout California. Upon retirement from teaching, Pam will pursue her art career full-time. Teacher, administrator, parent of two graduates, colleague and friend: Thank you, Pam, for all you have given to Crossroads and keep us apprised of your future exhibitions!



20 E


RONNIE ANDERSON There are so many ways to describe a teacher as special as Ronnie Anderson: magical, larger-than-life, kid-magnet. The list goes on and on. One thing’s for sure: Ronnie has left an indelible imprint on Crossroads since joining the School as a kindergarten teacher 20 years ago. Six years later, Ronnie began teaching third grade and has been ever since. But it’s not just the children who have learned much from him. Longtime friend and colleague Lisa Doyle, a kindergarten teacher, says Ronnie is quick to tell anyone who’ll listen that he taught her everything she knows. “The time in kindergarten with him were some of my most favorite years at Crossroads,” adds Lisa. With all his good-natured antics, it’s no surprise that Ronnie, who dressed as Puss in Boots last Halloween, has a background in and love of theater. He taught the Elementary School summer drama program for six years and has directed the Middle and Upper School musical theater production class for the past eight summers with his partner, Fred.




JOSE GUZMAN In fact, every day is a Ronnie Anderson production, says Elementary School Director Joanie Martin.

When most of the faculty and staff on the 21st Street Campus are finishing their workday, Jose Guzman is just starting

“He always greets everybody; he’s always smiling and happy,” says custodian Teresa Segura, his colleague of nearly two

“Ronnie is a pied piper with children. He is sprinkling pixie dust everywhere he goes,” she exclaims. “Every child in Ronnie’s classroom feels as though he or she is his favorite, because he loves each and every one of them to pieces.” First-grade teacher Eva Araujo describes Ronnie as a “vibrant and dynamic” teacher. “Ronnie’s best qualities are his big heart and his ability to make you laugh, no matter what mood you might find yourself in,” she says. His gift is observable and natural, notes Elementary School Dean Ilene Silk, likening his abilities to that of a horse whisperer. “Students love him almost as they would a family member,” she says.

his. Although they may not see him often, the fruits of his labor are evident to all who work and learn here. As a custodian, Jose is one of the team members who keep the School looking beautiful, and he takes pride in his work. “He’s a very, very hard worker—very reliable and dependable,” says Custodial Supervisor Paul Larson. “I really enjoy working with him. Jose is definitely the character of the group. When you’re down, he picks you up with a joke of the day, and we really love that about him.” His warm, gregarious, outgoing personality shines through as he’s working—as well as outside of the job. Facilities Director Gayle Taylor recalls having a blast dancing with Jose at a holiday party many moons ago. Beyond being a diligent co-worker, Jose is a friend who’s always ready to lend a helping hand.

years. “Working with him, I feel I’ve learned things I didn’t know. He has taught me to do my job with more efficiency and ease.” Those who work closely alongside Jose have also gotten to know more about his life outside of work, as he shares stories from his past and childhood, which brightens up his colleagues’ days. Some might even say he’s helped the Facilities team become more like family throughout his two decades at Crossroads. “He gets along so well with his co-workers,” Gayle says. “Really, the whole team works very well together.”


MICHELLE MERSON Cuando la mayor parte de la facultad y el personal del campus de la calle 21 está terminando su dia, Jose Guzman está comenzando el suyo. Aunque no lo vean frequentemente, los frutos de su labor son evidentes a todos los que trabajan y aprenden aquí. Como custodio, Jose es uno de los miembros del equipo que mantiene la escuela luciendo hermosa, y que toma orgullo en su trabajo. “Él es un gran trabajador y muy confiable,” dice Supervisor Custodio Paul Larson. “Me encanta trabajar con él. Jose es sin duda el comediante del grupo. Cuando te sientes mal, él te levanta con la broma del día y nos encanta eso de él.” Su personalidad tierna, sociable y extrovertida, brilla a través de su trabajo—y afuera del trabajo también. La Directora de Instalaciones Gayle Taylor recuerda divertiendose

bailando con Jose en una fiesta hace muchos años. Más que ser un trabajador diligente, Jose es un amigo, y siempre está dispuesto a prestar una mano. “Él siempre saluda a todos, y siempre está sonriente y feliz,” dice custodio Teresa Segura, su colega de casi dos años. “Trabajar con él, siento que he aprendido cosas que no sabía antes. Él me ha enseñado a hacer mi trabajo con más eficacia y facilidad.” Los que trabajan juntos a Jose han llegado a conocer tanto sobre de su vida fuera del trabajo, mientras que comparte historias del pasado y su niñez, y iluminan los días de sus colegas. Algunos podrían decir que durante sus dos décadas en Crossroads, el ha ayudado a unir al departamento de instalaciones mas como una familia. “Él se lleva muy bien con sus compañeros,” dice Gayle. “Realmente, todo el equipo trabaja muy bien juntos.” Translated by Courtney O’Rourke, first-grade teacher


Michelle Merson has come full circle. Sort of. She graduated from Crossroads School in St. Louis and has spent the past 20 years at Crossroads School in Santa Monica. When she first arrived at the School, Michelle was an eighthgrade Core teacher and a basketball and swim coach. Since then she’s been an eighth-grade Core coordinator, assistant director for Middle and Upper School summer programs and an academic dean in the Upper School. Michelle ultimately returned to the Middle School, where she currently serves as assistant director and seventhgrade academic dean. Colleagues say what sets Michelle apart are her gracefulness, attention to detail and uncanny ability to get students organized. “She works with every student, giving them what they need,” says Middle School Director Morgan Schwartz. “She

provides kids with structure and motivation, with praise, and she does it all with a smile on her face and infinite patience.” Even in the face of challenging circumstances, Michelle handles whatever comes her way with thoughtfulness and compassion. “She has to make really difficult decisions all the time, and she somehow does it with that great balance of equanimity and consideration for all the people that might be affected,” reflects Jamy Myatt, a Life Skills coordinator and teacher. “I just see her leading with her heart so much.” Lexi Peterson, a sixth-grade academic dean and math teacher, says she has been fortunate to develop a trust and bond with Michelle. “From day one, I’ve felt that she was committed to being my honest, supportive sounding board, and I’m so appreciative of that,” Lexi says. “Michelle’s greatest strength is that when she works with a student, she’s all in. She is heart, mind and soul in with that child, and they feel it, and they feel so valued.”





BRIAN MULLIGAN Brian Mulligan lives and breathes theater, and has done so for 20 years at Crossroads. He began his career at the School as a part-time drama teacher and director. Throughout the years, he has taught Upper School theater classes and Drama Conservatory, as well as directed Middle and Upper School productions. However, Brian’s talents extend beyond Crossroads’ classrooms. He earned an MFA in acting and directing from California State University, Long Beach, and has several film, television and theater credits under his belt. “Brian Mulligan is one of the most talented, gracious, intelligent and creative people I have met—not just at Crossroads, but in 40 years of doing theater,” says Scott Weintraub, a drama teacher across all three divisions at the School. A dynamic teacher, Brian is well-versed in a variety of

KATHY O’BRIEN theatrical styles. He is equally comfortable directing farce, Shakespeare, contemporary drama and improvisation, to name just a few. “Brian’s directing and teaching style are methodical,” says Middle School drama teacher Zoey Zimmerman. “He’s thorough, with an underlying spontaneity. He’s very prepared and then he also allows the moment to happen.” Colleagues have described Brian as “trustworthy,” “brilliant,” “magnificent,” “incredible” and “a good friend.” Former technical theater teacher and director Bekah Bryant says Brian was a pleasure to work with during her 10 years at the School. “It’s nice because he always comes with a very clear vision of what he expects and what he wants out of the kids and out of me as his designer,” she says. “It provides a platform for everyone to have a great product at the end of the show.” Upper School Drama Chair Davida Wills Hurwin adds, “Brian’s kind demeanor, generous spirit and absolute love of the children and this work have graced our department and helped all of us to grow.”

Twenty years ago, Crossroads’ alumni relations were far from the robust program we have today. Back then, there were only about 1,800 alumni and the School hosted just one 10year class reunion annually. That all changed when Kathy O’Brien came in. It’s because of her that the alumni program exploded. In the years that followed, Kathy organized several alumni gatherings: 10-, 20- and 30year class reunions; East and West Coast all-class events; and alumni college panels. She also created affinity events focusing on sports, music, art, writing and theater. Additionally, Kathy was editor of both Cross Sections and Alumni News magazines and handled the School’s media relations and press coverage in her first decade here. With the alumni program burgeoning, those duties were reassigned— though she continued as editor of the alumni magazine for

another four years. Kathy also worked on the Annual Fund, helping to raise money from multiple constituencies with a special focus on the then-fledgling alumni financial aid campaign, which grew from $22,000 to well over $250,000 annually during her tenure. Most recently she has been supporting the capital campaign as its communications and research manager, creating case statements, campaign proposals, and stewardship and endowment communications. Her undeniable knack for writing has been essential to the proposals she pens that inspire donors to provide financial support to Crossroads. “She brings an incredible amount of dedication to her work,” says former Director of Capital Giving Corinne Schulman. “Kathy is rock solid. She is a loyal friend, and she has bonded with people for the last 20 years, as well as being very open, collegial and supportive to people who are brand-new.” Director of Technology Mark Govatos, a longtime friend who has performed alongside Kathy in many a Crossroads Cabaret, hails her as “one of the great unsung heroes here at Crossroads.” YEAR

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TRIO FROM KERNVILLE, CALIFORNIA BROKEN THING Broken thing Swallowed up by dirt and spit out into a new being Being tossed about and bound into what I’m seeing Seeing dreams of green and freed, but only when I’m fleeing Never think of what it means, until it mends into a broken thing.

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK A lone cloud in the sky Compromised by a threatening blue It’s true that confusion blooms in a forest of crescent moons Singing tunes that we thought we once knew Slowly waiting for June to roll on through… It was crude but sadly true


We changed our ways and stood shoulder to shoulder A family was made, the remains laid there smoldered The phoenix was plain so the Raven was chosen And though we complained we became something bolder… The Raven will stay even when it’s all over

KAI MCALILEY, eighth grade

LILY GHODSI, eighth grade

Wicked tongues Heightened by a lack of composure Expunged by the means of exposure And undone so the kids could grow older




ADAN MAGAÑA Thanks to custodian Adan Magaña, no stone is left unturned when it comes to maintaining the Norton Campus’ second floor. In 1986, he was hired by then-custodial supervisor Mario Polanco, who acted as his mentor, and has fostered a tight-knit community among his Facilities crew. “Adan has a quiet strength about him,” says Cat Ramos, assistant director of the Elementary School. “He’s softspoken, kind, and you can count on him. Adan has been part of an amazing team: Lilian, Gerardo, Jose, Luvia and, of course, Paul leading them. … We’re so glad Adan is a part of our Crossroads family.” Not only is supervisor Paul Larson impressed by Adan’s work ethic, he describes him as a remarkable person. “Adan is very intelligent,” Paul says. “A lot of his coworkers come to him for legal and personal advice. That’s one of his strengths, being a good friend and a good co-worker.

Adan does an amazing job at the School, and that’s why he’s been with us for 30 years.” Even outside of the custodial staff, Adan has gotten noticed for his other talents. Elementary School Director Joanie Martin will never forget the time he brought his guitar to the holiday party some 20 years ago and wowed his colleagues with his musical performance. “We could not believe the music that came out of Adan. It mesmerized everybody,” she recalls. Joanie has a special bond with Adan; his daughter and her granddaughter were born around the same time. They like to catch up and compare notes on how the young ladies are doing from time to time. “The School and everyone in it is better because of him,” Joanie says.

Gracias al cuidador Adan Magaña, no queda piedra sin remover cuando se trata del mantenimiento de la segunda planta del campus Norton. En 1986, fue contratado por el entonces supervisor de los cuidadores Mario Polancoquien fue su mentor, y ha fomentado una comunidad unida entre su equipo de mantenimiento. “Adan tiene una fuerza silenciosa dentro de él,” dice Cat Ramos, la subdirectora de la Escuela Primaria. “Habla sosegadamente, es amable, y uno siempre puede contar con él para todo. Adan ha sido parte de un equipo increíble: Lilian, Gerardo, Jose, Luvia y, por supuesto, Paul al mando de ellos. Estamos encantados de que sea miembro de nuestra familia en Crossroads.” El supervisor Paul Larson además de estar impresionado por su ética profesional, también lo describe como una persona extraordinaria.

“Adan es muy inteligente,” dice Paul. “Muchos de sus compañeros le piden a él consejo personal y asesoría legal. Ese es uno de sus puntos fuertes, el ser un buen amigo, y un buen compañero de trabajo. Adan hace una labor extraordinaria en la escuela y por esa razón ha estado con nosotros por 30 años.” Incluso fuera del personal de limpieza, Adan ha destacado por sus otros talentos. La Directora de la Escuela Primaria Joanie Martin nunca olvidará aquella vez, hace unos veinte años, cuando él trajo su guitarra a una fiesta y cautivó a sus colegas con su actuación musical. “No podíamos creer la música que salía de Adan. Nos dejó a todos como hinoptizados,” recuerda ella. Joanie tiene una conexión especial con Adan; la hija de Adan y la nieta de Joanie nacieron casi en la misma fecha. De vez en cuando, a ellos les gusta ponerse al día y comentar sobre cómo les va a las chicas. “Gracias a él, la Escuela y todas las personas en ella están mejor,” dice Joanie. Translated by Ana Maria Floyd, Upper School Spanish Teacher


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TOM NOLAN One of the coolest cats around Crossroads, without a doubt, is Tom Nolan. When he and wife Peggy O’Brien came on board in 1986, he was a part-time Life Skills and Mysteries teacher and an admissions assistant director. His three decades of experience have made Tom a pillar among the teaching community at Crossroads. “As chair of the Life Skills Department, it is such a comfort to know that when we’re sitting in that circle of 13 faculty, there is such wisdom and experience represented,” David Listenberger says of his colleague of 17 years. “Because, frankly, when you’ve been around as long as Tom has, there’s not much you haven’t seen,” In 1993, Tom became dean of students. It was especially fitting because he knew every student personally and vice versa, and had a knack for staying in touch with them long after graduation. Last summer, he was named dean of alumni and continues to connect with former students. When he’s not teaching Life Skills and building up the alumni relations program, Tom can be seen gracing stages

PEGGY O’BRIEN across the region as the front man of the Tom Nolan Band. Natasha Samuels, Crossroads’ enrollment man-

Peggy O’Brien radiates love. She embraces students and colleagues with open arms, both literally and figuratively.

years, most recently the Kander and Ebb musical “Cabaret.” “A big part of her directing skill and art is how she

agement services coordinator, has enjoyed singing with Tom in and outside of school. Their performance of “We Shall Overcome” with security guard Larry Sheffield during the 2016 Upper School Martin Luther King Jr. Day assembly earned rave reviews from students, faculty and staff alike. “Tom is passionate. He’s kind, considerate and knowledgeable. He’s a great guy,” Natasha says of her bandmate. Larry, who has worked at the School for 31 years, calls Tom a “dear friend.” “What I love about singing with Tom is he throws off vibes and he gives you a good feeling of what you’re doing,” he says. “No one at Crossroads had an idea that I used to sing, and he gave me my break.”

“Peggy is a big love bug on campus,” says David Listenberger, Upper School Life Skills chair. “Students find Peggy wherever she is. They always want to hug her and she’s always ready with a hug.” Peggy and her husband of 34 years, Dean of Alumni Tom Nolan, embarked on their journey at Crossroads 30 years ago as substitute teachers. Their children, Jesse and Liz, graduated from the School in 2001 and 2003, respectively. “It was a weird and wonderful stretch when our kids were both in the Upper School,” says Tom. “It was a family affair every day. … Frankly, we feel like we live in a small town called Crossroads.” Peggy started out as a Life Skills and Mysteries teacher. A few years later, she became the department chair, developing curriculum still in place to this day. Peggy has also taught drama and chaired the department, directing amazing productions throughout the

navigates the group and helps everybody be their best selves,” reflects Middle School drama teacher Zoey Zimmerman. “Her analytical skills are extremely strong. She teaches students how to pick apart the text.” A multifaceted dynamo, Peggy is also a gifted writer and actor. Her play “Black Hole” has been produced at Crossroads and professionally across LA, and she performed a one-woman show, “Driving Without Brakes,” at the Ensemble Studio Theater and Crossroads in the 1990s. “This tiny force of nature brings magic to her classes and the shows she directs,” Upper School Drama Chair Davida Wills Hurwin says. “She has given so much to Crossroads School and is my dear and cherished colleague and friend.”





DAVID OLDS He’s been an Upper School English teacher, director of the Environmental and Outdoor Education program, a college counselor and an Upper School dean (who spent days locked in a room with Bob Riddle building the master schedule.) And this only scratches the surface of David’s past and current lives at Crossroads. Perhaps no experience was as meaningful as when he struck up a friendship with a cute biology teacher on the 21st Street Campus. “When I started, we taught classrooms back to back,” recalls Julie Olds, now executive director of the Crossroads initiative P.S. Science. “One of the things we would use as an excuse was he would have to come over and visit my sea monkeys.” Married since 1992, the couple has three sons—Cooper, Riley and Quinn—who are Crossroads lifers.

TRACEY PORTER Those who work closely with David know him to be a methodical, passionate English teacher.

Tracey Porter began her journey at Crossroads as an English teacher and started teaching the humanities-based

Todd Baron, a Middle School Core coordinator, has known Tracey for about 40 years and considers her his “best friend

“He knows every detail of the text,” says fellow English teacher and cross-country assistant coach Rika Drea. “It’s cool to hear David just be excited about classic texts, especially ‘The Odyssey.’ I feel like the more intricate the text, the more David gets into it. As long as it’s confusing, then that’s David’s forte.” David also has been praised for his abilities as a dedicated track and cross-country coach. Last December, he led the boys cross-country team to a strong California Interscholastic Federation finish. “There’s not many coaches able to motivate studentathletes, make them feel that they’re part of something special. That’s an art and he has that,” Athletics Director Ira Smith says. “He may seem quiet, but he has a way of making his teams unique, his players feel special. And at the end of the day, he wins.”

Core program in the 1990s. She embodies the School’s philosophy of inclusion and building relationships. She has been described as humble, modest and elegant. “The energy, the safe feeling, the comfort that she provides— she’s absolutely brilliant at what she does,” says Upper School counselor Leslie King. Tracey keeps her students engaged by taking new approaches to the curriculum and incorporating different media. For example, when she teaches a unit on the Middle Ages (think Knights of the Roundtable and King Arthur), she assigns projects for which her students make art, movies and 3D-printed shields. “Students love being in her class. You see them in there when they don’t have to be in the classroom,” observes Middle School Director Morgan Schwartz. “They come and consult with her. They want her opinion. They’re looking for her validation and she gives that to them.”

for life.” “Tracey is empathetic, intelligent beyond intelligent, a truly progressive teacher and an ear for all my woes and joys,” he says. “There’s nothing I don’t love about Tracey Porter. [She] has taught me more about the classroom than any other single source.” A humble spirit, it may come as a surprise to some that Tracey is an author of several published children’s books, with some editions published in German and Japanese. They include “Lark” (2011), “Billy Creekmore” (2007, which has been taught at Crossroads), “A Dance of Sisters” (2002) and “Treasures in the Dust” (1999). Tracey’s children Sarah, and Sam, graduated from Crossroads in 2011 and 2015, respectively.




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on the 21st Street Campus— would take the cake. Countless families have benefited from Morgan’s leadership over the past 30 years, as he’s touched so many students’ lives. “Morgan really knows how to read people and situations, and he has a kind of judgment and steadiness that’s remarkable,” says retiring Upper School visual arts teacher Pam Posey. “I hear he’s a really great draw at alumni events because he follows up with the students. He keeps in contact with them throughout the Upper School and throughout their lives. He really cares and they know that.” Morgan first joined Crossroads as an Upper School chemistry teacher, and shortly thereafter met Crossroads’ college counselor Kristina Russell, who would become his wife. He then moved over to the Middle School, where he became a dean, then an assistant director and ultimately Middle School director.

Upper School Director Roxanne Zazzaro feels lucky to have Morgan as her mentor. “I find him to be an excellent listener. He’s good to work with, collaborate with, solve problems with,” she says. “In these last four years, I’ve learned a lot from him.” Some believe Morgan thrives as the shepherd of the Middle School because he relates so well to faculty, having walked in their shoes. “He gives his teachers and all the staff around him the opportunity and the space to really find themselves, and be comfortable within that environment,” says Upper School counselor Leslie King. He also possesses a unique ability to connect with middle schoolers; he appreciates their mischievous, boundary-pushing spirit. “He knows what it is to get in trouble, to not follow the rules. … I think that’s really his secret to success,” Leslie says.


If height alone was an indicator of one’s congeniality, Director of the Middle School Morgan Schwartz—a towering presence

CAYSON WERNICK, seventh grade




Kate Thomas Joins the Alumni Office

Alumni Soccer vs. Brentwood

Crossroads welcomed Kate Thomas as the new alumni relations manager in March. Her focus has been forging connections between current and former students, strategizing future outreach and community-building opportunities and organizing alumni celebrations.

The annual Alumni Soccer Game was held on Jan. 9 at Crossroads’ Norton Sports Complex. In the end Brentwood School prevailed, but a great time was had by all.

“I’m excited to join the Crossroads community and engage with alumni to advance the mission of the School,” Kate says. “It’s a really great network, and I look forward to supporting the program to facilitate lifelong relationships for our alumni with the School and each other.” Prior to joining Crossroads, Kate served as the public programs and alumni relations manager at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and previously worked with the RAND Corporation.

Share Your Success Please consider sharing your successes, accomplishments and life events with us. Donate your book, film or Crossroads archival materials to the School or submit a class note online. For details, go to

Upcoming Events

08/30 Alumni Summer Mixer

10/22 1986, 1996 and 2006 Class Reunions

12/15 Alumni Day of Service

DATES TBD › Class of 1976 Reunion

› Parents of Alumni Reunion

› Alumni Speaker Series

To learn more about or register for any of our upcoming events, or to update your contact information, please visit or contact us at If you would like to be a part of the planning committee for your reunion, please contact Alumni Relations Manager Kate Thomas at


Crossroads Sopranos Share a Stage Two Crossroads alumnae performed with the Lyric Opera of Chicago this past winter in the world premiere of “Bel Canto.” Danielle de Niese ’97 and Diana Newman ’08 appeared in the riveting story of an American opera singer (played by Danielle) caught up in an international hostage crisis. Based on the 2001 novel by Ann Patchett, the subject matter proved too relevant: The November 2015 Paris attacks occurred during the show’s rehearsal period. Shares Danielle, “I had to pull myself together to go and face the

drama and intensity of the rehearsal process, knowing that this was being lived out in real life in another city—with real bloodshed, real lives lost. I chose to pour the reactions from real life into theatrical life and go toward the tension. This created some very intense and very beautiful creative responses, which imprinted themselves on the show.” “In a way, for me, art is life,” she adds. “It doesn’t exist in a bubble; it exists to be shared, to bring people together.”

Diana—who played one of the terrorists and also understudied Danielle’s role—credits Crossroads for its focus on the transformative power of the arts. “Crossroads had a giant hand in preparing me for a life in music, and for life in the general sense,” says the former EMMI violinist. “The performance opportunities for a musician at Crossroads are unparalleled. I had some pretty amazing teachers there.” Above: Diana, left, and Danielle backstage at the Lyric Opera. Below: Diana, left, and Danielle in scenes from “Bel Canto.””

This summer, Danielle performs in England as Rosina in the Glyndebourne Festival’s new production of Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” returning to the U.S. in August for her debut at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival. In the Lyric Opera’s 2016-17 season, Diana will sing the roles of Woglinde in “Das Rheingold,” Frasquita in “Carmen” and Papagena in “Die Zauberflöte.” PBS will air “Bel Canto” as part of its 2016-17 season. For more of our interview with Diana and Danielle, please visit


Young Alumni Reminisce on Their Time at Crossroads Members of from the Class of 2015 returned to campus in January to give their younger counterparts the scoop on what life after Crossroads is really like. Andrew Jimenez, Jon Brown, Joyce So, Lawrence Gilliam, Nina Mortensen, Sol Fagenson, Soraya Alizadeh and Stella Totino spoke about adjusting to college life and

dipping their toes into adulthood during the annual Young Alumni Day panel. They also shared what they miss about the School. “One thing I didn’t realize until after I left Crossroads was how special Crossroads really is,” Soraya said. “This is a one-of-a-kind place and it’s an experience you most likely won’t ever get the rest of your life.”



Musings on Cabaret by Tom Nolan, Dean of Alumni

Cabaret 2016 was epic, showcasing the many talents of our alumni both on and offstage, including codirector Lily Rains ’97 and featured performers Jack Black ’87 and Tyler Ritter ’03. When Cabaret’s home for many years, the Wadsworth Theater, was no longer available, Director of Special Projects Kelly Kagan Law ’92 recommended a new venue: The Wiltern, which the Rapino family generously made possible. Close to 100 alumni attended the after-party to celebrate a job well done. Like other recent alumni gatherings in Brooklyn and San Francisco, it was a meeting of the tribes where members of different classes met and mingled. There will be other great opportunities for alumni to connect and network in the near future. (See Upcoming Events on page 38.) As a veteran of many Cabarets, I was surprised by how uplifted I was by this particular experience. The spirit of the day was so positive; it will be hard to top three years from now. But of course, that’s we say after every Cabaret! Congratulations to all who participated, attended and partied together! “When I say X, you say Roads!”

Clockwise from top left: Co-director Lily Rains ’97 leads students in a rehearsal; playing a young Paul Cummins, Tyler Ritter ’03 rocks out, accompanied on guitar by Crossroads dad Val McCallum; in an alternate future, former NBA player Austin Croshere ’93 gets the royal treatment at Crossroads Institute for Math, Basketball and Young DotCom Start-Up Entrepreneurs; for the grand finale, Jack Black ’87 saves the day doing the “Time Warp.”

Alumni parent and Dean of Alumni Tom Nolan brings the house down singing the Chicago “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

Cabaret 2016 followed the adventures of four students on a time-traveling quest to discover what inspired Paul Cummins to co-found Crossroads School. Below are a few alumni highlights, onstage and behind the scenes.


More than 50 alumni contributed to the spring fundraiser Cabaret this year. The alumni after-party was held at Line Hotel in Koreatown, where graduates from a variety of classes celebrated together. A special thanks to Betsy Rosenfeld Vargas ’91 for helping us find the party venue!



1. Wendy Glickman ’85, Anna Cummins ’91, Melissa Clark ’85, Heather Seiniger ’89 and Joanna Port ’87 2. Alix Bearman ’91, Julie Steiger ’91, Ryan Englekirk ’90 and Tiffany Romain ’91 3. Sam Music ’92, Rob Reinis ’92, Gabe Cowan ’92 and Jon Schurgin ’92




4. Sherrise Smith ’95 and Paul Cummins 5. Tom Nolan, Bob Riddle and Lily Rains ’97 6. Paul and Mary Ann Cummins, Jack Black ’87 and Anna Cummins ’91 7. Steve Leeds ’88, J.A. Adande ’88, Jim Hosney and Mary Ann Cummins 8. Sara Worth ’11, Zoe Worth ’07 and Tom Nolan



9. Betsy Rosenfeld Vargas ’91, Mark Govatos, Jamie Meyer and Cameron Burg ’95 10. Garret Baer ’11, Megan Baer ’10, Joanie Martin and Kate Berg ’02






San Francisco Alumni Reception On Feb. 26, over 60 alumni ranging from the classes of 1978 to 2015 dropped by the Triple Voodoo Brewery in San Francisco to say hello to current and former Crossroads faculty and staff.



>>> 1. Arielle Jackson ’99, Bob Riddle, Doug Thompson, Jessica Hilberman ’98 and Candace Sims ’98 2. Blake Brandon ’15, Chase Brandon ’13, Nick Santhiago ’14, Bob Riddle and Monique Brandon 3. Morgan Schwartz, Leslie Hsu ’01 and David Rogier ’01 4. Group photo



5. Sarah Korda ’96, Tom Nolan and Laurie Wagner ’78 6. Amanda Micheli ’90, second from left, and guest, left, with Tom Nolan and Caroline Spiegel ’15 7. Josh Kagan ’97, Carina Marquez ’97 and Kimberly Seigel ’00 8. Amanda Medress ’05 and Barbara Whitney




9. Shelley Ackerman ’09, Jonathan Goldstein ’09 and Jamy Myatt 10. Bob Riddle and Jessica Hilberman ’98 11. Carli Devin Singer ’07, Osekalome Akhile and Anja Akhile ’07






Alumni on Campus Whether it’s to speak to a class, visit with faculty, attend and event or just stroll down the Alley, we love having alumni back on campus. Here are some of the graduates who visited us during the 2015-16 school year: 1. Over 30 alumni from classes 1982 to 2011 returned to campus to catch up with old friends, have Council and share ideas for the Crossroads Alumni Association.




2. Recent alums Christine Lee ’16 and Jackson Schierbeek ’16 accompany Tiffany Kang ’15 to swing by the Alumni office. Tiffany has just finished her freshman year at the University of Michigan, and Christine is headed there in the fall. 3. Chandler Zolliecoffer ’11 and Jordan Zolliecoffer ’15 came by for an end-of-school visit in May. 4. Betsy Rosenfeld Vargas ’91 visits the ’Roads on Senior Dog Day in April. 5. Julie Olds and Ruben Sanchez ’14 catch up.


6. Caitlin Notey ’10 and Brandon Tillis ’15 came to see old friends and teachers in the Alley.

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7. Lucas Kirby ’15 and Sam Konsker ’15 dropped by campus on their spring breaks from Yale and Colgate, respectively. 8. Lilla Brody ’14 and Tom Nolan watched Lilla’s sister Annalie graduate at the 2016 Commencement.




9. Marisol León ’03 returned to campus to visit faculty and discuss current and upcoming social justice initiatives at the School.

Alumni Making Music 1. Nokuthula Ngwenyama ’94, pictured here with Alexander Treger, left, and Dong-Yi ’93, took part in the March 16 EMMI & Friends Recital.



2. Brianna Lear ’13 and the Vassar Night Owls performed in Roth Hall on March 24 and then taught a workshop to the 21st Street Singers. 3. Cameron Johnson ’11, left, and Owen Thiele ’14, pictured here with Tom Nolan, sat in with the Jazz “A” Band at their year-end concert at Catalina’s Bar and Grill on May 29.



4. Phillip Golub ’11 and Adam Goldman ’12 were among many alumni who participated in the Jazz “A” Band reunion concert at Typhoon on June 15.



Alumni Online Community

There are many ways to connect with Crossroads and stay connected with your fellow alumni.

Alumni Portal Click on Login, then enter your user ID and password.

› Update your contact information. › Access the Alumni Directory.

Parents of Alumni Reunion On March 6, over 100 parents of alumni returned to campus for a reunion. They mixed and mingled over drinks and hors d’oeuvres, toured the Science Education & Research Facility and saw all of the new changes in the Alley. Thanks to everyone who came out for this great event!

Crossroads School Alumni Group on Facebook More than 2,000 group members

› Post, view, like or comment on recent or upcoming events.


› View alumni event photos.

Crossroads School Alumni Network on LinkedIn

› Look for or post a job or an internship.

› Find Crossroads alumni in your industry.

› Connect or collaborate with

someone in another industry.

Crossroads School Alumni on Twitter @xrdsalumni




Daniel Kleinman was recently appointed senior associate dean in the graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,



where he is still a professor. His new co-authored book, “Vanishing Bees: Science, Politics, and Honey Bee Health,” will be released in fall 2016. CLASS OF 1984

Wayne Brosman is a freelance trial attorney based in downtown Los Angeles. He writes that he’s “single and loving all the new restaurant and bar openings.” CLASS OF 1987

Nina Holland writes: “I live in the historic city of Göttingen, Germany, where I have a printing workshop and publishing house devoted to artist books, Little Steidl Verlag. I have worked there for about 13 years and decided to move permanently to Europe in 2011. With the architect Peter Zumthor, I am building a house for living and working next to the city’s 12th-century stone wall and tower. It will be the third Zumthor work in Germany. In the meantime, I live next door to the observatory built for Johannes Kepler in the 17th century. My daughter, Luna, who also attended Crossroads and then Fairfax High School, is living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she is a mathematics student at MIT.”

Crossroads had just two buildings and 54 students in the seventh grade when David Umansky started. “It was exciting, filled with people who had a

we make a difference in communities and in children’s lives,” says David, who received the Social Entrepreneurship Award from the Manhattan

passion for education,” he recalls. “Its unconventional nature made it even more inspiring.” Over the past three decades, he’s carried that passion and the principles of community service gained at Crossroads into his education and career choices. He majored in Law in Society at the University of California, Santa Barbara, then went on to earn an MBA in finance and international business from New York University. Facing a tough economy, he felt fortunate to get a job as vice president of marketing at a big bank, but discovered he couldn’t share its mission. Entrepreneurial by nature, he co-founded Expert Ease Software Inc., a developer of software products for the legal industry. The company did well, but David wanted to use his business skills to impact the public sector. In 2002, he found that intersection as co-founder and CEO of Civic Builders, which provides turnkey real estate solutions for high-performing charter schools in underserved areas of need. Civic Builders has renovated or built 22 schools in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and, increasingly, across the Northeast. “I love that

Institute in 2010. Civic Builders’ stats are impressive. Its schools bring quality education to some 11,000 students a year. Fully 98 percent graduate high school and 94 percent of graduating seniors are accepted to college. Civic Builders recently started a college scholarship fund as well. David finds deep satisfaction in helping to create “inspiring buildings.” Many of the schools also house community centers and health care centers. In 2015, the organization debuted its first project to feature affordable housing, in East Harlem. Armed with his experience at a small, untraditional school in Santa Monica, where learning took place in two buildings and an Alley, he says, “I’m aware quality education can happen anywhere.”




Caleb Goddard


writes: “My


family and I continue our world ule that allowed him to sit in on an abstract algebra class at USC. Most importantly, Daniel adds, “My time at Crossroads made me feel comfort-

The image of a solitary mathematician, solving increasingly complex equations alone in an ivory tower is a myth or, at the least, outdated, says Daniel Krashen. Perhaps a few hundred years ago, he says, “one person could claim to be on top, but now math is a human project, a social endeavor. And the contributions we make as individuals are dwarfed by the collaborations we undertake.” Within that collaborative environment, Daniel earned a big spotlight this year as one of 105 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor in the U.S. for researchers in the beginning stages of their careers. One of the earliest sparks for that career came when he joined Crossroads in seventh grade. The School provided a flexible sched-

able in my own skin.” The “greasy tortilla snacks” in the Alley kept him going. So did the music on campus. He was part of the 21st Street Singers (“Wonderful”) and spent time “noodling around” on the piano while his musician friends practiced. The surround-sound atmosphere influenced his choice of Oberlin College, in part because it also had “music all around.” After earning his bachelor’s in mathematics, Daniel completed his doctorate at the University of Texas. He has taught at UCLA and Yale University, among other schools. Now an associate professor at the University of Georgia, his research and teaching focus on algebra and algebraic geometry, with an eye toward pure mathematics, the abstract science of numbers, quantity and space. He is married to fellow mathematician Angela Gibney with whom he has two daughters, Jordan and Alexis. One exciting aspect of the Presidential Early Career Award was the chance to visit the White House to meet President Obama. Another was the opportunity to thank “a whole community of people,” including his Crossroads teachers. Now he’s determined to help others have the same positive school experiences.

tour. We’ll be living in Bangkok for the next two years, where I’ll be working at the U.S. Embassy. If any alumni have any questions about a career in the foreign service working for the State Department, feel free to shoot me an email.” Heather Murdock writes: “I teach biology at San Francisco State University, play soccer with my students and lead international biodiversity tours through EF College Study Tours during the summers. My daughters are now 14 and 16 and love to travel (they come on my tours), dance, hang out with friends and create (art, music, poetry, etc.) My husband, Paul Gardner (Pali High ’88), works at UCSF and does woodworking as a hobby. It was great to see former teachers and administrators at the last Crossroads reunion in San Francisco and we look forward to the 30th reunion for the Class of ’88 in 2018!” CLASS OF 1989

Michelle Birnkrant Dean writes: “I recently returned to graduate school to obtain my master’s in clinical psychology. I have been fortunate to continue the community service passion instilled in me through Crossroads to work in community mental health. I have


been married for 18 years and both

to promote our I Am Ocean

of our kids will be in Middle School


at Crossroads in 2016. I am so grateful to be part of this commu-


nity again and to be able to share


it with my husband and children


makes it even better.”

writes: “I

One is an

solitary confinement at a Super-

accessories company (jessicaelliot.

max prison where supposedly only

com) that I have had for about 12

the ‘worst of the worst’ reside.

years, and the other is a private

In reality, the vast majority are

label/corporate gifting accessories

chronically mentally ill or ‘difficult’

company that I just started last

inmates. My family member was

June with a partner. We produce

blessed with a core of steel and is

accessories for other people for

now a public defender and ‘model

wholesale, retail, promotional and

citizen.’ Most, however, are psycho-

gifting logo items, etc. (indigoroad-

logically broken and more danger- I live with my husband

ous than when they went in. I fully

and my 8-year-old daughter off of

support the ACLU in its efforts to

Laurel Canyon.”

ban Supermax prisons. I hope you Ryan Englekirk writes: “Still

will, too.”

working my way through the Sean

dissertation and am not looking


forward to the rather dim outlook

writes: “In

of the recent job market for Ph.D.s.

fall 2015, I

Thankfully, it is cheaper to get

was asked

health insurance by staying in a

to join the

Ph.D. program, rather than get it on

board of directors for the newly

my own. I have conducted several

formed Ocean Media Institute

interviews of major league um-

(OMI), a global media collective

pires, but am hoping to get several

that serves to create, educate and

more before the end of the year.

advocate for the protection of the

(Hint, hint: If anyone has connec-

ocean. I have been actively working

tions to major league baseball …

to raise funds and awareness for

especially the umpires, I would love

OMI this year, and have begun to

to hear from you.) The goal is to

build a number of partnerships.

defend the dissertation before the

We are looking for additional

end of the year, though more real-

sponsors, partners and collabora-

istically it will happen sometime

tors to develop media workshops,

before I’m eligible for AARP.”

short and feature length films and

XAVIER CARR, 12th grade


member of mine spent five years in

TYSON CLARK, second grade

have two Lezlie Neusteter writes: “A family




Lindsey Arent Schank writes: “My family and I just moved back to Los


Angeles after living in San Francis-


co and Washington, D.C., for the past 15 years. My husband, Joshua, was brought here to fix LA’s traffic

At the age of 4, Nokuthula “Thula” Ngwenyama began studying piano and immediately knew she would become a musician. That unswerving

At 16, Thula won the Primrose International Viola Competition, and a few months later won the Young Concert Artists International Competition. She

determination led her to Crossroads School and, from there, to concert halls and stages worldwide. Thula, who added violin to her repertoire at age 6, had attended Crossroads music events while in elementary school. “They were inspiring,” recalls Thula, now a renowned solo violist and a recording artist with EDI Records. At age 12, two momentous things happened. Thula began playing the viola, and she arrived at Crossroads for seventh grade. Within what would become the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute (EMMI), Thula found a home. She appreciated the classical conservatory’s “hard-core training” and studied counterpoint with legendary composer and teacher Herbert Zipper. “It doesn’t get better than that at any level of education,” says Thula.

departed Crossroads before graduating—”It was difficult to leave,” she says—for the Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia. Soon after, she received the Avery Fisher Career Grant. Thula, who has been called “one of the great viola players in the world,” has performed throughout the U.S. and across four continents, from the White House to the Louvre to “Saturday Night Live.” Now, she’s devoting much of her time to a “huge passion,” composing. Among her recent works are world-premiere compositions of “Sonora Storm” for solo viola/orchestra and “Climbing to Dragon’s Mountain” for violin quartet. She’s also composing for a children’s string ensemble in her home base of Phoenix. Following Curtis, Thula attended the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris as a Fulbright Scholar and, fascinated by world religions, earned a master’s in theological studies at Harvard University. She’s been a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University. She loved Crossroads’ rare ability to combine high standards with creativity and a generous spirit. The School helped teach her a philosophy that she feels is true in both life and music: You have to know all the rules so you know which ones you can break.

problems, and I work for former Congressman Henry Waxman’s strategic communications firm. We are thrilled to be back home, and we are especially excited to be near our Crossroads friends and family!” CLASS OF 1993

Travon Dugar Muhammad is the CEO and co-founder of Sole Brothers. He writes: “We collect and donate gently worn athletic shoes to children and adults in need. We also have several travel basketball teams that provide opportunities for underprivileged kids to play at a high level.” CLASS OF 1994

Linda Ripoll writes: “I am coowner of Honey Pot, an all-natural, 100 percent-vegan feminine wash. We are currently sold in Whole Foods stores in the Southeast. We will be going national into Target starting spring 2017. I am so excited to be a part of the new movement to make healthy, natural products for feminine wellness so that women everywhere can live healthy, happy, productive lives.” CLASS OF 2000

Jennifer Reynolds-Kaye writes: “My exhibition ‘Small-Great Objects: Anni and Josef Albers in the Americas’ will open from Feb. 3 to


June 18, 2017, at the Yale Art Gallery, where I work in the Education Department. After completing our Ph.D.s, my husband and I relocated to New Haven, Connecticut, with our twin boys, Theo and Dash.” CLASS OF 2003

Amena Jefferson Mebane writes: “My family just relocated from Seattle to San Diego. We also just welcomed into the world our second child on May 3, 2016, Makai Mebane. Our daughter Mahailey just turned 2. We love being back in sunny California.” Natasha Sarraf writes: “Attending Crossroads felt like being part of a family. I wish everyone from the Class of 2003 and beyond continued success and happiness. I love all of you and I am here to help as always. I am currently working on an app called Flyy, which is available in the App Store. Check it out! I am also directing after doing two years of my MFA at NYU Tisch.” CLASS OF 2005

Beryl Liebowitz writes: “This summer I will join Bastyr University’s Class of 2020 to begin a doctorate of naturopathic medicine. It’s my goal to eventually provide comprehensive integrative health care for women.” CLASS OF 2006

Maya Rosas writes: “I’m a land use consultant at Atlantis Group in San Diego working on increasing the region’s housing supply, which is so needed because the rent


LILY RAINS ’97 At 2 years old, Lily Rains would sometimes sneak out of preschool and into the dance studio next door. One day, her frantic teachers found the bud-

Marymount University. Following college, she moved to Chicago to work with the Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theatre as an assistant

ding ballerina practicing poses in the mirror. Her mother promptly enrolled her in dance classes. “I always wanted to sing, dance and act,” says Lily, a self-described “working-class actor,” storyteller, producer and teacher who has appeared in commercials, TV shows, indie films, theater and web series. Along the way, she’s taught theater and improv at Crossroads and road-managed seven Crossroads Touring Company productions. She has also assistant-directed past Cabarets and recently co-directed Cabaret 2016. Despite her eclectic resume, Lily wasn’t immediately focused on theater upon arriving at Crossroads in seventh grade. Although she auditioned for a few productions, she quickly discovered another passion—soccer—and “fell in love with it.” Lily played on the soccer team in seventh and eighth grade and again her junior and senior year (when she made varsity). Other Crossroads experiences, such as serving as student body president and Life Skills classes, also had their impact. She shares, “Being asked to speak our truth every week, and hear the truth of others, helped me find my voice.” After graduation, Lily’s theatrical inclinations took center stage. She started at Smith College, then finished her theater degree at Loyola

director. Over the past decade, she’s done 30 national commercials (“My bread and butter.”) She also starred in and co-produced an award-winning web series, “I’m Harry Clark,” and recently co-created and starred in “The Pooka,” a short film starting its festival circuit. Look for Lily later this year in guest spots on Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” and the Netflix remake of “One Day at a Time.” Crossroads re-entered her life 15 years ago when she began working in the Environmental and Outdoor Education program. She was also a substitute physical education and theater teacher. “It’s a beautiful challenge to break down the steps of my process, or my curiosity about other people’s processes, to help someone else understand their own,” says Lily. Her career is the “ultimate collaboration” between her two selves: the educator and the storyteller. It’s a partnership she hopes will enjoy a long run. Learn more at



is too damn high! I’m also on my community planning group, Uptown Planners, which is the official


advisory group for land use issues to the city. Come visit me and my


cat if you’re ever in San Diego!” HarperCollins Publishers in New York City. But a memory of all the Crossroads teachers “who put time into me” stuck with her. “They totally

For Liz Milch, Crossroads was an inspiring, exuberant literary adventure, punctuated by Great Books and film classes, “where I learned most of what I know even now,” she says. Liz, who calls herself “nearly a lifer,” came to Crossroads in first grade and immediately took to its open, encouraging atmosphere. She wrote for the Middle School newspaper and, in ninth grade, joined the staff of Crossfire. “That became my passion,” she says. “I loved it.” By senior year, she was editor-in-chief. Liz found her writing voice at Crossroads. She fondly recalls one creative writing assignment that asked students to invent an “extra” chapter for “Catcher in the Rye,” which taught her both “how to be in my own voice and shift my voice.” Liz earned her bachelor’s in English literature and language at Yale University, then joined the staff of

influenced my desire to be a teacher,” she says. She went back to school at New York University for a master’s in secondary English education. One of her first jobs: developing innovative middle school curricula based largely on the Great Books. “I have a soft spot for the canon,” she says. In 2014, Liz’s career took another intriguing turn when she became “curriculum guru” at Genius, an online knowledge platform that invites users to provide annotations and interpretation of song lyrics, news, poetry and other forms of text. Initially charged with curriculum development and teacher support, Liz quickly became the site’s community manager, and is now deputy director of content across all Genius media channels. She’s involved in managing a full range of content, from videos to literary essays, as well as brainstorming how to appeal to readers. “I’m calling back on skills I learned at Crossfire,” she explains. Genius’ company culture encourages people to talk about issues. “We call it, ‘feel it to my face,’” says Liz. “That can be hard for some, but for me, it’s like Life Skills at Crossroads. It feels great!”


Brianna Golding writes: “Once a week, I volunteer at a women’s nonprofit detox facility called Ashland Home in Laguna Hills, California. Recovery is something near and dear to my heart, as it is a process I have embraced for the last three years. Like anything worthwhile in life, I thought by volunteering at Ashland I was doing them a favor but in reality, I was being given a gift.” Michelle Leisner writes: “After graduating from Lewis and Clark College with a degree in biology, I went on to pursue research at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Interested in disease dynamics, I enrolled at Emory University, completing my master’s in public health in 2015. In December, I moved to Denmark to pursue a career as a researcher at Aarhus University. Applying my skills in epidemiology, I work on understanding the outcomes for individuals born with congenital heart defects.” CLASS OF 2009

Jordan Moldo is the production/ development coordinator at the Weinstein Company.



Nora Canby just wrapped up her junior year at Wesleyan University, where she is studying books. She is still good friends with several



members of the Class of 2013, including Emily Greenberg. Hassani Scott writes: “As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party and the call for Black power, I am organizing an event on my campus this October to engage folks in conversation on the meaning, implications and status of Black power both yesterday and today. I invite an intergenerational group of activists, scholars and artists in hopes of urging young folks to work together (and across generational lines) to realize visions for a more equitable world.” Cherokee Washington writes: “After a historically successful year working with Whitman Teaches the Movement with my cocoordinator and adviser (Nikki Antenucci and Susan Prudente), I have been offered to serve as the 2016-2017 Associated Students of Whitman student diversity and inclusion director. This position has recently been created under the new student body president, Arthur Shemitz. This position will allow Arthur and me to tackle issues of diversity and inclusion on all levels with our fellow Whitman students, the Whitman Board of Trustees and other powers that be. Thanks all at Crossroads who prepped me to do this sort of work. Couldn’t have gotten here without you!”

At age 12, Kyle Padilla grabbed the family camera, dressed his friends and his dad in bedsheet togas and staged scenes in his driveway for a video school report on Roman history. A director-screenwriterproducer was born. So he was more than ready to plunge into Crossroads’ film classes when he arrived for 10th grade. A strong baseball player, Kyle played catcher and third base for the varsity team. But his love of film won him over. Coming to Crossroads halfway through Upper School, Kyle felt “a little out of place” at first, but other students quickly welcomed him. And the teachers—including film instructor Billy Robertson—were “awesome, passionate about their profession and their classes. And they were so available and present on campus,” Kyle says. Kyle expanded his film skills at Crossroads. He proudly recalls that one of his films, “Pistol House,” got rave reviews from Middle School viewers. He continued on to USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, graduating in 2013. While there, he reached out to USC and Crossroads alumni and began interning for Ace Norton ’00, a filmmaker and artist who attended

both schools. Over time, Kyle moved up to producing music videos for Ace. “I discovered a new interest and really wanted to be part of it,” Kyle says of his immersion in electronic dance music (EDM). With his own production company, Cedar Films, he has directed and produced music videos for top DJs, including Nicky Romero (“Like Home” and “Legacy” in 2014) and Don Diablo (“Starlight/ Could You Be Mine” and “Back to Life” in 2015). Now Kyle’s in early development for a feature film he’s written using the EDM world as a backdrop. He also directed a documentary web series, “Living the Dream,” centered on a national tour by Matoma, a Norwegian DJ. As he builds his career in a competitive field, he says he carries with him lessons gained at Crossroads, in particular, “knowing there are mentors you can turn to who believe in you.”




Richard Grayson March 25, 1941-July 3, 2016

Beloved Crossroads music teacher Richard Grayson passed away on July 3 after a long illness. Richard began working at Crossroads as a part-time music theory teacher in 2001, after serving for more than 30 years as a professor of music at Occidental College. “Richard was one of the greatest musicians, with a humble personality,” says Dong-Yi ’93, former director of the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute (EMMI). “His care for his students has had a tremendous impact on their lives.” Richard influenced the music careers of hundreds of Crossroads students, and was universally loved and respected as a music theory teacher. Max Karmazyn ’12 shares, “He was one of the reasons I began studying composition, and went on to receive a degree in composition

from the University of Michigan. Had it not been for the theory program required by the EMMI curriculum, I wouldn’t be where I am now: working as an assistant composer to a major film composer in LA, as well as a professional freelance violinist.” Richard was incredibly supportive of Crossroads’ music students, always in attendance at each of their performances to cheer them on. His devotion to his students continued long after graduation; Richard was also a frequent and welcome presence at the recitals and concerts of our alumni. In addition to being a highly regarded teacher, Richard was also well known as a performer, in particular for his improvisation concerts. Richard performed regularly at the Bing

Theater at LACMA, which he last did in May on behalf of Crossroads School and the EMMI program. Richard received his Ph.D. in composition from UCLA. His awards as a composer include a Fulbright Fellowship to Belgium and a composition grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. For over three decades, Grayson gave concerts and seminars for the Yamaha Music Education Foundation and visited Japan many times to perform and teach. Says junior Noah Simon, “Very few people have a gift and spirit that can bring joy to so many. Richard Grayson was absolutely one of those people. Not only was he immeasurably talented, he was one of the greatest people I have even known.

He was an endless source of inspiration, guidance and knowledge. He dedicated countless hours of his time to me and invested so much effort into my musical education. He went to every EMMI concert and right after they would end, I would run to find him first to hear what he thought. His ear was infallible and his opinions were measured and never missed the mark. He was loved by all who knew him and will be sorely missed.”

In the fall, Crossroads will host a celebration of Richard’s life, and Occidental College will hold a memorial service. More details to follow.




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